Separation between a mother and child: The observer’s role as a container

Handa, Satoshi (2017) Separation between a mother and child: The observer’s role as a container. Infant Observation: International Journal of Infant Observation and Its Applications, 20 (2-3). pp. 120-133. ISSN 1369-8036 (Print), 1745-8943 (Online)

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The author describes the process of separation between a mother and her baby in an infant observation. Initially, the observer had a picture of a peaceful mother-and-baby couple, in which he was perceived as a potential intruder. However, the baby’s growing ego and interest in the observer confronted the mother with the presence of three during the observation hour, which seemed to lead her at times to resort to overexcitement to ward off difficult feelings related to separation and the threesome. When the mother went back to work, the struggle with separation became more evident. Overexcitement seemed to be the dominant way of dealing with the pain of separation. When these defences failed, the observer felt that he was the witness to and bearer of the pain. The author discusses the role of the observer in this observation as a container for the painful emotions which the mother and the baby seemed often unable to bear. The author suggests that the observer, as a container, might have been of use to the baby, and explores the observer’s difficulty in bearing the primitive and infantile emotions stirred up within him which provoked a wish for premature, intellectual understanding.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 24 Apr 2018
Uncontrolled Keywords: Male Observer, Immigrant Family, Separation, Container, Projection, Negative Capability
Subjects: Families > Mother Child Relations
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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