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Miller, J. (1988). A Baby's Advanced Development. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 11(3):229-240.

(1988). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 11(3):229-240

Baby Observation Reports

A Baby's Advanced Development

Jill Miller


Alice is an infant who thrived in a consistent and caring environment. The observations which are contained in this paper trace her advanced growth and maturation from birth to 16 months. Alice's development is examined within the framework of separation-individuation, two tracks which are distinct yet interrelated, as outlined by Mahler and her colleagues:

One is the track of individuation, the evolution of intrapsychic autonomy, perception, memory, cognition, reality testing; the other is the intrapsychic developmental track of separation that runs along differentiation, distancing, boundary formation, and disengagement from mother. All of these structuralization processes will eventually culminate in internalized self representations, as distinct from internal object representations. (Mahler et al., 1975, p. 63)


I first met Mrs T prior to Alice's birth. In our initial interview she was thoughtful and questioning as she contemplated the commitment required for a project of this type. Once Alice was born and I began weekly visits, she integrated me into her routine and welcomed me into her home. A very observant mother, she reported the changes she saw in Alice each week as the two of us shared in the delights of her development. Mrs T was a constant and easy caregiver with a keen ability to adapt to her growing and changing infant. She possessed a capacity to stand back and observe herself and Alice, determine what her child needed, then re-engage with Alice in a manner which was impressive. She did not use me for support or advice; rather her style was professional, yet friendly and warm.

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