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Hinshelwood, B. (1991). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 7(3):219-220.

(1991). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 7(3):219-220


Bob Hinshelwood

The & physical life of the foetus, or the physical life of a culture, the attempts to make psycho-analytic and psychotherapeutic ideas relevant outside the consulting room have been continuous throughout the practice of psychotherapy. Robert Whyte has attempted to follow the conversion of the physiological interactions between the mother's womb and the foetus into the psychological interaction of the infant with the mother. The physiological proto-object becomes the infant's psychological object at a point coinciding with the severance of the umbilical cord. There is a large body of interest in this cosmic moment of the psychological birth of the new human being, though some would assert that it is not a matter for psychological discovery but more one for spiritual contemplation. It leaves us with the question of what are the possibilities of knowledge of these remote but extraordinarily personally intimate occurrences. We do not yet have the psychological equivalent of the radio telescope which was a profound quantum leap in the investigation of outer space. Helga Coulter in her prize essay raises questions of epistemology about the infant - how can we know about it? or what makes us convinced that our knowledge is true? She is concerned about the nature of the knowledge that comes out of observation which is knowingly an influence upon what is observed.

We could get along with a general shrug of the shoulders and a resignation to having a good-enough though not perfect method of understanding in the sensitive area of investigating responding human subjects.

[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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