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Muñoz, M. (2005). Un año para toda la vida: El secreto mundo emocional de la madre y su bebé [A year for the rest of life: The secret emotional world of mother and baby] Mariela Michelena Madrid: Temas de Hoy. 2002. 214 pp.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):600-603.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):600-603

Un año para toda la vida: El secreto mundo emocional de la madre y su bebé [A year for the rest of life: The secret emotional world of mother and baby] Mariela Michelena Madrid: Temas de Hoy. 2002. 214 pp.

Review by:
Marisa Muñoz

Mariela Michelena has written a book about the first year in the life of a human being. It is a book of neither psychoanalytic theory nor clinical practice, although it is written from both clinical experience and the author's theoretical convictions. It is a work written by a woman psychoanalyst who contemplates with fascinated eyes the complex emotional world of a mother and her baby. The author proposes empathetically to accompany the mother, so that she too may have the possibility of accessing the richness and profundity of that psychoanalytic gaze. Michelena also proposes that this might help the mother understand herself and her baby in the prolonged process of psychic growth that makes the first year ‘a year for the rest of life’.

Nor does this reviewer think this could be considered to be a book of popularised psychoanalysis, in any case a confusing and even pejorative term. Rather, it takes as its starting point the conviction (which other psychoanalysts have shared and continue to share) that the knowledge psychoanalytic science has accumulated over a century of research on the human psyche can be transmitted not only to other scientists and professionals, but also to the human beings about whose minds it speaks. Thus, some of what ongoing psychoanalytic research has allowed us to infer is returned to them.

This review emphasises the key psychoanalytic threads that hold together the argument of the book. Michelena has been able to express these ideas in vivid and often poetic language in order to communicate with a mother who is a woman with no psychoanalytic knowledge, but an intelligent, receptive interlocutor who can draw upon her own emotional experiences and her intuition and capacity for introspection about her inner world.

The book begins by opening wide the door to ‘the woman's inner world’, connecting directly with her fantasy. ‘To contemplate a flame, a wave, a baby’

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1 Translated by Kathleen Ross.

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