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(1989). Ways of Seeing: 7. Anne-Marie Sandler. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):55-57.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):55-57

Ways of Seeing: 7. Anne-Marie Sandler

We have had a number of enjoyable and interesting contributions following the video presentation, and it seems important to underline the fact that watching the video excerpts has provoked many strong reactions in all of us. We were all filled with a mixture of emotions, some pleasant and some painful, as we observed the mother and her baby, and their interaction. At times we experienced a sense of outrage and helplessness and found ourselves violently blaming the mother or — to give another example — desperately wanting the baby to stop handling the grater. We must all have been aware of our shifting identifications and of our tendency to get rid of the anxiety or the pain we were experiencing by becoming indignant and critical.

As observers of such video excerpts we are forced into a situation of passivity which is very stressful. We are asked to watch what is going on, but at the same time we are totally helpless and cannot intervene in any way. In such a situation one can easily be overwhelmed by one's feelings and by a sort of sensory and emotional overload. It is therefore quite natural that we tend to protect ourselves from too much discomfort by narrowing down our observation, by scotomizing and seeing only those things which are familiar to us; alternatively, we may turn to intellectualisation and take refuge in theorising. Theory, of course, provides us with a body of knowledge which can be used to explain things, and, because we are able to encompass what we observe in an explanation, we can gain an important sense of safety.

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