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Trowell, J. (1993). From Fetus to Child: By Alessandra Piontelli. London and New York: Routledge and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. 1992. Pp. 260.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:1082-1083.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:1082-1083

From Fetus to Child: By Alessandra Piontelli. London and New York: Routledge and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. 1992. Pp. 260.

Review by:
Judith Trowell

The field of observation has expanded and developed dramatically since Esther Bick's 1964 paper. Infant and young child observation was developed as a training tool for those wishing to embark on psychoanalytic training and then work with children. It soon became clear that observation skills, the capacity to observe the subject, the context, and one's own reactions to these observations, were an excellent introduction to any psychoanalytically-orientated training. Observation therefore became part of many trainings, and over time it began to emerge that the way in which observations were carried out and reported in the accompanying seminars could be predictive of a candidate's potential as an analyst or child therapist. This predictive aspect then spread to the observation itself. Could the information and understanding gained from observation be predictive in relation to the subject? By now observation was being used in a range of settings, not only with parents and babies or young children, but also adolescents, school children, children and adults with disability, those with learning difficulties and the elderly.

The possibility of looking retrospectively at observation material to see if there had been clues to the subsequent development seemed exciting. The analytic work of reconstruction or re-experiencing could be compared with children's and adults' actual experience, and by then some children and young people in analysis had been observational subjects as babies and young children. Could there, would there, be any links? In this book, Dr Piontelli has taken what seems like an obvious next step—prospective observation.

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