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Being the baby

Eric at twenty-five months: The new baby, whom I shall call Daniel, is eleven weeks old. While mother is breast-feeding baby Daniel, Eric lies in the baby bouncer facing them while sucking his fingers. When mother sternly tells him to get out, he forcefully throws the bouncer sideways at mother.

Later when the new baby is put into Eric's former bedroom, Eric goes into his parents' bedroom, takes one of baby's blankets and unsuccessfully wraps his teddy in it. When the blanket keeps falling off, as he picks up teddy, he asks mother to help saying he has to cover teddy or "he'll get pneumonia.”

In Eric's mind there seems to be "a baby" who is clearly in danger of dying or falling ill. His thought about an ill baby is linked with Eric's anxieties about wanting to take baby's place. It is also connected to Eric's sense of being left "out in the cold" while the new baby is being fed.

Splitting loving and hating feelings

At times Eric cannot manage the intensity of the conflict between his loving and his hating feelings. He then resorts to splitting the hostile feelings off into various relationships, in order to preserve a good loving relationship somewhere:

Eric at twenty-six months: Eric begins nursery school. He returns home to enjoy bathing under mother's care. He says, "I love you mummy." On this same occasion he will not come near me as he usually does and he refuses mother's request to, "Say goodbye to Jeanne." This is unusual.

Eric at twenty-eight months: Eric is very nice to baby, but he is increasingly defiant to mother, saying "no" to each of her requests for him to have a bath and to leave his toys in the play area.

Eric at twenty-eight months: Eric gets cross with mother for giving baby a toy she won't let Eric have. When mother attempts to wash him in the bath, Eric refuses to let her wash him. He says, "Jeanne, wash me." When I reply that I shall watch him, he washes his body excitedly, while naming all the parts of his body.

 
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