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Waddell, M. (1988). Infantile Development: Kleinian and Post-Kleinian Theory, Infant Observational Practice. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(3):313-328.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(3):313-328

Theoretical Concepts: The Child's Psyche II

Infantile Development: Kleinian and Post-Kleinian Theory, Infant Observational Practice

Margot Waddell

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds; and until we know what has been or will be the peculiar combination of outward with inward facts, which constitute a man's critical actions it will be better not to think ourselves wise about his character.

George Eliot

Thinking psychoanalytically about character involves relinquishing dreams of explanation and recognising that it is an infinite field in which every realisation reveals a new problem. One place to begin is with the psychic development of the infant. The mystery of development, by which I mean emotional growth, is lodged in the matrix of relation and communication between mother and baby from the first; describable inchoately in terms of relations between sets of dualities; for example, internal/external, present/absent, conscious/unconscious, true/false.

Such dualities are amongst the axes which chart the metapsychology of development. They can also be helpfully kept in mind in an attempt to think about the relationship between the practice of infant observation and theories of infantile development. For in important respects two distinct languages are involved: that of science, describing the phenomena of the outer world; and that of poetry, the experience of the inner. The problem is how to bring the two into relation. That problem relates not only to the different modes evident in the present paper but to the nature of infant observation itself. For one starts with a belief about the language of insides and brings that into a setting where it is the outsides that are apparent.

[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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