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O'Shaughnessy, E. (1986). Commentary by a Kleinian Analyst. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(1):77-79.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(1):77-79

Commentary by a Kleinian Analyst Related Papers

Edna O'Shaughnessy

I understand I am asked as a Kleinian psychoanalyst to comment on this observation of an infant and his mother. I have selected one or two features (others could have been chosen) and I hope something of my approach can be seen from my remarks. I have not seen the comments of the others.

In the observation reported in detail mother tells the observer that her father died while she was pregnant, and with an ironic apprehension which seems to cover a serious degree of anxiety, she anticipates having to feed her baby and also having to visit her own mother for the weekend. The observer then describes how the wakened baby first greets him with a smile and then greets mother with more than a smile: Jimmy extends both arms to her. This begins a fascinating sequence in the observation, Jimmy's complex, differentiated movements of his arms, which bear, I think, an intriguing relation to how mother has always held him in her arms: she always holds Jimmy with her left arm around him close to her body while feeding him from a bottle in her right hand. The observer describes how after she picked up Jimmy, as soon as his hands were free of the sleeping bag ‘they came together on his chest, the left hand round the right one’. This is Jimmy's duplication of the very way mother holds him round with her left hand and it could be understood as Jimmy's unconscious identification with his holding mother.


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