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Title: What can be learned from a single case of psychoanalytic infant observation?
Author: Shallcross, Wendy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 6922
Awarding Body: Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2015
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This study investigates a single retrospective case of psychoanalytic infant observation. Two principal aims emerged from the evolving investigation. The first concerned the methodology involved in examining observational data using psychoanalytic methods, the second being the exploration of what can be learned from the systematic study of a single recorded case of infant observation using Grounded Theory. The focus for the study concerned the infant’s first year and considered the structuring of the infant’s psychic life, which takes place in the initial relationship(s). From the phenomenological description of behaviours in the observed context, combined with the emotional field described in the observation reports,emotional meaning was inferred. The systematic use of line-by-line coding, abductive reasoning and the formation of categories led to discussion of the following detail:The first month of life; Exploration of the period when mother was traumatically absent, followed by her return; Selected observations that reveal parent/infant recovery. Several conclusions are reached regarding the observed infant. The first concerns the identification of synchronous rhythms or patterns in the mother/infant relationship where they were found to form a backdrop to aesthetic reciprocity. Rupture in aesthetic attunement was instrumental in activating a cascade of early proto-defensive organisation into later development. This took the form of oral preoccupation; namely regurgitation, rumination and choking. Whilst this defensive organisation may be specific to the observed infant, the study draws attention to developmental processes that may be relevant to infants in general. There is evidence to support how babies are more integrated than first thought by Bick (1968) and are ‘open’ to triangular relating in the first weeks. Proto-defensive structures may be evidenced from the start of post-natal life. This study makes a contribution to the body of knowledge concerning rumination in infancy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Prof.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Child Development ; Babies ; Psychotherapy Research