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(1989). Ways of Seeing: 6. Rose Edgcumbe. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):49-54.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):49-54

Ways of Seeing: 6. Rose Edgcumbe

One big advantage of video over the live performance is that we can rerun it to look again when we are unsure of what we saw, and to discover things we did not see at all first time round. We can thus correct or enlarge our first impressions through a second or third look. I will give a couple of examples of how my own perceptions changed in this way. Secondly, live babies, unlike videos, don't have a pause button that we can press in order to examine some interesting detail and take time to think about it. Above all, many pairs of eyes can look at the same incident, so that we can compare notes from our own experiences of what we have looked at, and how we interpret what we saw. In infant seminars, when only one pair of eyes has actually seen the mother and baby, we often don't know who is projecting what into whom. Are we hearing about the mind of the baby, the mother, or the observer? The disadvantage of video is that what appears in front of our eyes has been pre-selected not by the baby or its mother or even the observer, but by the cameraman (possibly under the observer's direction), the film editor, and, in today's case, the committee that selected the excerpts. But at least this group of selectors represents a range of points of view, and I think we can agree that they have chosen interesting things for us to look at.

What we make of what we see is, I think, conditioned by many factors: preconceptions deriving from our own past life-experience and from the ideas and values of our own family of origin, which we may consciously or unconsciously accept or react against; our immediate emotional reactions to what we see, which may open our eyes to new meanings or set in train defences which blind us, (and Edna O'Shaughnessy has talked about this aspect); our own personal analyses which may sharpen or alter our preconceptions, remove, strengthen or alter defences, and make us aware of things we would not otherwise have noticed; our theoretical training which influences our conscious expectations and our way of interpreting what we see; our special interests which make us concentrate more on some aspects than others of the behaviour displayed before us; our professional, clinical experience that alerts us to particular aspects of development which we have found to be important.

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