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Nachman, P.A. (1998). Maternal Identification: A Description of the Process in Real Time. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(1):209-228.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(1):209-228

Maternal Identification: A Description of the Process in Real Time

Patricia A. Nachman

This research, using the method of microanalysis, explores the to-and-fro activity of the self- and object representational world of mothers as they observe their children. Under examination is a “moment” usually lasting not more than 5-20 seconds that was selected by the mother as outstanding to her during the time she was observing her child. A microanalytic interview technique was developed in which the mother is asked about everything she experienced about “the moment,” including what she was feeling, imagining, doing, perceiving, and remembering. At brief intervals she was asked to indicate on a scale where—on herself or her child—her experience was centered. These data were organized in terms of tracking the locus of the mother's perspective: from dwelling in her own mind (self-representation) to inhabiting that of her child (object representation). Results indicate that these representational shifts occurred frequently, usually every one to three seconds, and that there were significant individual differences among the mothers.

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