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Hering, C. (1986). The Preserved Nipple Closeness and Distance in the Mothering of a Baby. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(2):144-150.

(1986). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(2):144-150

Infant Observation

The Preserved Nipple Closeness and Distance in the Mothering of a Baby

Christoph Hering

I first met Mrs Brown some time before the birth of her baby Lucy. During this meeting quite powerful anxieties were expressed by her and already at that time I wondered how these might influence the relationship with her baby.

Mainly three points particularily attracted my attention: (a) Mrs Brown said she did not enjoy being pregnant at all and that she found herself ugly and unattractive; (b) she said that she did not want to breast-feed the baby because she had not enjoyed it with her first child six years ago; and (c) she told me that if the baby were deformed she would under no circumstances keep it, and she added that she did not find babies beautiful.

In fact, at the time of writing, Lucy is ten months old and presents herself as a big and healthy baby girl. Any connection between her present state and mother's early anxieties is not an obvious one. Even during the whole period of my observations Lucy appeared to be a very cheerful and quite contented baby who is neither easily frustrated nor upset. She was never severely ill and showed amazing patience and tolerance in bearing the discomforts of the usual physical complaints such as colds, rashes, bruises and teething. In relation to emotionally difficult situations she struck me as a very forgiving baby who rarely lost her good humour. Today she comes across as an alert, responsive, curious and quite boisterous child who can at times express her likes and dislikes in a forceful way.

However, in the light of the anxieties mother had shared with me before Lucy's birth, certain aspects of my observations became particularly significant and alerted me to what I came to consider a highly conflictual and complex relationship between the baby and her parental environment.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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