From omnipotence to acceptance: the account of an infant observation of the painful and necessary disillusionment of Jacob

Otley, Hen (2020) From omnipotence to acceptance: the account of an infant observation of the painful and necessary disillusionment of Jacob. Infant Observation: International Journal of Infant Observation and Its Applications . ISSN 1369-8036 (Print), 1745-8943 (Online)

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Abstract

This paper builds on Winnicott’s and Hopkins’ understanding of the potentially detrimental risks of a child receiving ‘too-good mothering’; the paper explores the possible consequences of the prolonged experience of perfectly attuned care of ‘Jacob’, from his sensitive, responsive mother. The author makes use of observational material to consider the important processes of idealisation, splitting and omnipotence involved in Jacob’s relationship to his mother, followed painfully by his difficulty at the next stage, that of integrating reality with ideal. His carefully managed transition to the childminder, so that his mother could work, was felt by all members of the family to be unbearable, and the arrangement fell apart. The author also looks at the roles of Jacob’s father and grandmother who could step in to offer something good enough, providing him with a second chance to work through the developmental task, in Winnicott’s terms, of becoming gradually disillusioned and more able to face reality.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Received 16 Jun 2020, Accepted 29 Jun 2020, Published online: 13 Jul 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords: Attunement, Too-Good Mothering, Idealisation, Disillusionment, Paternal And Grandparental Support
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Babies
Families > Mother Child Relations
Families > Parent Child Relations/Parenthood
Department/People: Special Units
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2253

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