Medium 9781855753181

Intimate Transformations

Views: 905
Ratings: (0)

This enriching book describes the value of learning about the development of the human personality through the experience of observing a baby in the context of the family. It is distinctive in the field of infant observation literature, for it shows how the affective learning augments the learning experience. It also highlights a somewhat neglected area of observational study; the relationshio between siblings and its influence on the development of the self-esteem of the younger child.The book comprises three sections: observing babies in their families; application of infant observation studies to work with intensive care units for premature babies and to psychotherapy with adult patients; and the teaching of infant observation using the affective learning model approach. The book is written in a style suitable for both parents and a wide variety of professionals, including paediatricians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and teachers.It is a crucial book for those parents and clinicians who wish to think more about the baby's preverbal emotional life.

List price: $28.99

Your Price: $23.19

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

13 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1. The origins of self-esteem in infancy

ePub

Hope Cooper & Jeanne Magagna

This chapter describes some of the ways in which self-esteem can develop in infancy. Weekly observations of infants in the natural environment of their family are used to explore how precisely this centrally important part of the self—self-esteem—takes shape. It is based on Hope Cooper’s observations of two families with an older sibling, aged between 18 and 19 months old when the new baby was born. In each family the second-born baby was the infant being observed over a period of approximately two years.

The nature of self-esteem

Self-esteem is a somewhat neglected concept in psychoanalytic literature, but in the fine grain of infant observation material, a deeper complexity can be elaborated. Referring to the worth or dignity that one ascribes to oneself, self-esteem implies a sense of integrity, self-respect, the feeling and consciousness of what one is responsible for, what one must do—or may not do—in order to maintain one’s personal dignity. According to psychoanalytic thought, the feeling of personal dignity comes from an unconscious value system that exercises its influence unconsciously (Jacoby, 1996). Likewise, the conscious and unconscious beliefs and evaluations that family members hold about themselves help determine who they are, what they can do, and what they can become. These powerful, largely unconscious influences provide an internal guiding mechanism, steering and nurturing both parents and children through life, governing their interactions with one another.

 

2. The sibling link

ePub

Hope Cooper

M“y study of the infant’s mind”, wrote Melanie Klein (1952) “has made me more and more aware of the bewildering complexity of the processes which operate, to a large extent simultaneously, in the early stages of development” (p. 6). The infant observation that follows provides an opportunity to explore the overlap of some of these processes, namely that of the dyadic and triadic relationships that the infant negotiates from the very beginning. I shall trace the development of a baby girl, from infancy to 22 months, paying particular attention to how a Hispanic family creates a new psychological space for their second baby, as well as how the baby experiences and manages the anxieties and traumatic helplessness of infancy. I underline the importance of the sibling by highlighting the reactions of the baby’s older brother and how these contribute to the formation of the baby’s internal world and personality. I then consider whether the sibling, alive or in potential, may constitute one of the infant’s earliest encounters with triangular relations, alerting the infant, at least in momentary ways, to the fact that the mother is not exclusively hers. Among other things, this observation also asks us to wrestle with the question of how siblings share and claim space, in the mother’s mind and in the family, and of where we situate the sibling in the baby’s developing inner world.

 

3. The role of the mother in developing the capacity to bear emotion

ePub

Christine Norman

“I was most struck by how a mother’s private hopes, fears, and fantasies affected her relationship with her new baby. It became apparent that a mother’s experiences within her family of origin played a decisive role in shaping how she would subsequently act with her own child.”

Daniel Stern, The Birth of a Mother (Stern & Bruschweiler-Stern, 1988)

There are questions that interest those of us who study and work with people. Why do some individuals triumph over terrible circumstances? What creates resiliency? How do we develop the ability to manage intense affect? What allows some people to respond positively to adversity? These questions address a psychological capacity to bear or to manage difficulty. We speak of things that are “hard to bear”, “unbearably painful”, or “too much to bear.” In a positive sense, we speak of the ability to “forbear”, to “bear up”, or to “bear fruit”.

The role of the mother in creating within her child a capacity to manage difficult affect and tolerate frustration is linked with the development of an internal-object world and a sense of self. The ability of the mother to identify her child’s affective states and to respond with empathy to his feelings provides a containing function that allows for a process of giving and being which in turn influences the child’s capacity for patience and a sense of security. A mother’s mind-set will organize her mental life and consequently influence the development of her child (Stern & Bruschweiler-Stern, 1998). What a mother considers important, what she pays attention to, or what she ignores will create the milieu of a child’s basic psychic organization.

 

4. One, two, three, baby you and me: baby’s experience of self and others

ePub

Jaedene Levy

One, two, three, as easy as ABC / one, two, three, baby you and me—the words of an old rock ‘n’ roll” song. One doesn’t necessarily think of infant observation and numbers at the same time, but numbers provide a useful shorthand for referring to a baby’s experience of self and others. In the situation I am discussing, there is one baby, one observer, one observation seminar group, two parents, six grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbours. All of us play a part in this baby’s life. All of us are part of the system of her external and internal world. I stepped into that world when “Lisa” was 6 weeks old.

I took my observations of Lisa to the infant observation video-link seminar, where we took turns talking about “our babies”. We observed the development of their personalities and relationships, and, like the baby, I am part of dyads and triads and groups. I have relationships with the group, the video-screen, the baby, her family, and my own external and internal worlds. They weave together. It’s not as easy as ABC, one, two, three for me, any more than it is for the baby, her mother, and her father. The experience of being with the baby for one hour a week took on a complexity, full of meaning beyond anything I could have imagined. The guiding principle in the seminar and in this chapter is Esther Bick’s (1968) premise that each gesture is connected to the baby’s thought processes and that the baby’s actions reveal the story of the baby’s inner life.

 

5. Oedipal anxieties, the birth of a new baby, and the role of the observer

ePub

Simonetta M. G. Adamo & Jeanne Magagna

“You must stay until my father arrives …”

Lucia, 4 years old, sister of a new-born baby, to her observer

This chapter describes the changing relationship between a mother and her young child following mother’s pregnancy and the birth of a second baby. It is based on the observations of a 2-year-old girl presented to a Young Child Observation seminar. Since this is a relatively unexplored area of observational study, a brief history of the development of this seminar within the Tavistock training will be given first. The image of an ancient vase will then help to introduce, through the evocative power of its representation, the theme of the wait for the new baby and the young child’s turning to the father. In particular, the chapter focuses on the father’s role, as mediated by the observer, through transferential functions assigned to him by the child. Special attention is paid to the young child’s search for a private space with the observer, physically separate from the intense, intimate relationship with the mother together with her new baby. This emotional space provides a boundary around the primitive emotions experienced by the child, thus allowing the development of some capacity for self-observation and reflection.

 

6. Fear of massacre and death: containing anxiety in the neonatal intensive care unit

ePub

Nancy Bakalar

The purpose of this chapter is to explore the concepts of containment (Bion, 1962, 1967) during a two-day consultation to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where a young premature infant girl was dying. Anxiety about death and dying, as elaborated by Isabel Menzies (1959), was globally prevalent in the nursing and physician staff. This long-standing and profound anxiety blocked the staff’s ability to understand both the parents’ plight and their communications about their daughter. Intellectual understanding uninte-grated with empathy made the staff unable to help the family with their terror about having the child either live or die.

The parents had been unable to consider the possibility of having a sick child. The absence of psychic space to consider the tragedy of this child resulted in the father making not-so-veiled threats of returning to the NICU to murder the staff. The crisis was confounded because hospital administrators largely absented themselves, despite their awareness of an attending physician who was distressed as he experienced powerful projections from both the family and the hospital staff.

 

7. Keep on knocking but you can’t come in: rejection as a defence against emotional pain in the NICU

ePub

Jaedene Levy

After three years of infant observation seminars, observing healthy infants, I decided to observe premature infants. A colleague arranged for me to observe in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). This chapter is designed to explain how I tried to develop a psychoanalytic understanding of my experience. I shall attempt to convey how I understand the meaning of rejection. I intended to observe neonates in detail, to learn more about development, but I found myself preoccupied with the study of rejection, which intruded on each aspect of my encounter in the NICU. I am committed to understanding whatever experience confronts me, and therefore I am highlighting the intrusion of this experience on my intended task. Using my own countertransference experience and linking my response to my experience of rejection is the basis of this work.

It took nine months to be allowed to enter the NICU because the process of obtaining of permissions and the necessary security checks involved a lot of paperwork. I felt I had been pregnant with a great idea, which had been extremely difficult to deliver. My first visit to the NICU in a Federal Hospital was just after September 11, 2001. The whole United States was un-nerved.

 

8. The shadow of your smile: intrusion or engulfment

ePub

Carolyn Shank

My interest in infant observation studies grew from my clinical work with several adult patients who suffer from a chronic awareness of disconnection, frequent lapses into states of confusion, and an acute sense of feeling lost and unbounded. They seem to have no language for these experiences and have difficulty associating these phenomena with memories or current events, which suggests that the origins of their catastrophic anxiety and disorganization are preverbal. Observing infants, studying the mother–infant relationship, and reading the works of Meltzer, Rosenfeld, Winnicott, and eventually Bick helped me to attend more carefully to nonverbal messages and the spontaneous gestures through which unconscious anxiety finds expression in adult psychotherapy patients. This chapter illustrates how I have integrated my understanding from infant observation with my clinical work.

Throughout much of his work, Winnicott (1962, 1971) noted the parallels between the dynamics and modes of communication of the various mother–infant and therapist–patient relationships. He invited therapists to attend carefully to patients’ nonverbal messages, indicating that some patients show a “felt sense of unintegration” and develop primitive autosensual forms of protection against early infantile anxieties; that a child may or may not be able to develop a mind

 

9. Learning from infant observation: understanding adults in psychoanalytic psychotherapy

ePub

Nancy Bakalar

The weekly process of observing a baby develop in his family has had a profound impact on my work as an already experiénced psychiatrist and psychotherapist working with adult patients. I have greater respect for the ways infants use primitive psychological protections to survive the suffering of infancy and continue to live. In this chapter, I share my understanding of how observing, reflecting upon, and experiencing an anguished infant’s use of the primitive processes of dissociation, adhesive identification, and primitive omnipotence facilitates psychoanalytic psychotherapy with adult patients who have suffered infantile deprivations.

Prior to observing infants, my acquaintance with the theory regarding primitive protections was useful to me; it was only through actually observing babies and experiencing within myself a baby’s fear for survival that I fully appreciated the necessity for these primitive protections. Before, I may have tended to experience psychotherapy patients’ use of these primitive protections as acting out or defences against my efforts to understand. I also learned more about the defences that adult patients might use through observing a mother who, feeling intolerable pressure, anxiously turned away from her vulnerable infant, so dependent on her for security, protection, nurturance, and personal intimacy.

 

10. Teaching infant observation: developing a language of understanding

ePub

Jeanne Magagna

In this chapter I shall describe the fostering of a “language of understanding” while leading infant observation seminars. This is based on many years of infant observation seminars, including three years of experience in an infant observation seminar with Mrs Esther Bick, child psychoanalyst, who began infant observation at the Tavistock Clinic in 1948. I intend to focus specifically upon the infant observation seminar’s work of creating a language for expressing, understanding, and containing early infantile anxieties present in:

•  the relationship between the parents and the baby-in-their-mind

•  the relationship between observer, baby, and parents

•  the relationship between the seminar members and the observer

•  the relationship between the observer and her own baby-in-her-mind

•  the evolution of a distinct baby-in-mind in the infant

In doing so, I hope to develop more awareness of the infant observation seminar’s task of creating both a spoken and an unspoken language of understanding. For convenience, the observer will be referred to using feminine pronouns, although both males and females are ideally present in infant observation seminars.

 

11. Teaching infant observation by video-link

ePub

David Scharff

Is it possible to teach infant observation to students who are at a significant geographic remove from each other and from the teachers from whom they wish to learn? I report in this chapter on a project to establish a videoconference capacity to link infant observation students from two centres with a teacher at a third site, discuss briefly some of the technical challenges posed by the equipment and technology, review the opportunities and challenges to in-depth communication, and describe some of the dynamics that have emerged in our early experience with the technology. I shall outline some of the dynamics of teaching infant observation by video-link, with brief examples drawn from one of the first of the series of seminars.

Many students want to learn infant observation or analytic psychotherapy but live and work at a prohibitive distance from the centres of training. In the past, these students have either been precluded from training or been able to train only by dint of personal sacrifice or a great deal of travelling. The teachers of infant observation have, until recently, been concentrated in London, where the method was born, and the distance from there to areas of potential interest has significantly slowed the spread of the discipline. Modern technology offers to help change this situation and, perhaps, ultimately to alter the landscape of training in observational processes.

 

12. Infant observation augmented by the affective learning experience

ePub

David Scharff

The infant observation seminar at the International Psychotherapy Institute has been unique not only on account of the videoconference technology that convened the group together (see chapter eleven), but also because of the use of the group affective model to support the learning. This chapter describes the group affective model and gives illustrations of its value to the seminar.

The group affective model applies object-relations theory to teaching and learning tasks. The group affective model does so by looking at the resonance between relational issues in the group and the theoretical, clinical, and developmental issues being studied, and it then uses this resonance to explore and understand these issues (Scharff & Scharff, 2000). In this chapter, I give a brief overview of the rationale for the group affective model, the modifications of the learning process required for its implementation, and some illustrations. In chapter thirteen, Nancy Bakalar gives additional illustrations of the group process.

 

13. Learning through affective group experience

ePub

Nancy Bakalar

Esther Bick’s infant observation seminars strictly focused on fine-detailed observations of the mother–infant pair. Bick discouraged what she considered extraneous information, such as ideas and theories of other writers and observers in the field of early childhood development (Magagna, personal communication 2002). Discussion and understanding of seminar group process were not part of the task. In contrast to Bick’s study groups, one task of our infant observation seminar was to be attentive to affects, stirred up within members and the group-as-a-whole, that elucidated the dynamics of the mother–infant dyad. So, some time is spent during every seminar to attend to those processes as a way to enhance experiential learning. To provide further depth of understanding, David Scharff, Co-Director of the International Psychotherapy Institute, sat in periodically to facilitate such self- and group reflection. Near the end of one academic year, when several members would soon be graduating, the members and seminar leader reflected on their personal and professional learning experiences. Discussion of learning experiences and the attendant dynamics of our last affective learning group are presented in this chapter.1

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000020581
Isbn
9781780495774
File size
1020 KB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata