Desktop version

Home arrow Sociology arrow Infant Observation: Creating Transformative Relationships



The family's move marks the end of the observations, the end of the seminar with Mrs Bick. The ending of my visits to the family, particularly after such a lengthy observation period, provokes many questions regarding how to end the observations. I wonder, "How do I leave my relationship with the family?" I don't feel it is appropriate to switch immediately from the role of observer to friend of the family. This is an inclination which frequently arises at the end of observations. I decide to visit the family occasionally, with several months elapsing before I visit as a possible friend rather than as an observer. I imagine that after some months elapse, there will be time for my role as an observer, with all the infantile transferences it carries from mother, to be stored as a memory, leaving space for what, if anything else, can later emerge between me and the family.

My aim in writing this paper is not to trace the complexities of the baby's emotional development into childhood. Instead I am highlighting some of the central preoccupations with early infantile anxieties, in particular the fear of disintegration and loss of identity, which are central to Mrs Bick's contribution to the study of infants. Through her devotion to observing and understanding the child and the parents, Mrs Bick fostered our own wishes to participate in a concerned way in the seminar. I frequently reminisce about Mrs Bick to whom I would like to dedicate this paper—for her help in bringing to life in me, in a vivid, meaningful way the full impact of the experiences of a baby new to the world, and the parents new to the task of rearing him.


Bick, E. (1964). Notes on Infant Observation in Psychoanalytic Training. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 45: 558-566.

Cornwell, J. (1983). Crisis and Survival in Infancy. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 9: 25-33.

Cornwell, J. (1985). The Survival Functions of Primitive Omnipotence. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 66: 481-489.

Harris, M. (1975). Thinking about Infants and Young Children. London: Clunie Press.

Harris, M. (1982). Growing Points in Psychoanalysis Inspired by the Work of Melanie Klein. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 8: 165-184.

Meltzer, D. (1986). Studies in Extended Metapsychology. London: Clunie Press.

Tustin, F. (1986). Autistic Barriers in Neurotic Patients. London: Karnac.

Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >