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Ramsden, S. (2003). The Cradle of Thought Peter Hobson Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2002 274 pp., £20. J. Child Psychother., 29(2):265-268.

(2003). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 29(2):265-268

The Cradle of Thought Peter Hobson Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2002 274 pp., £20

Review by:
Sandra Ramsden

This is an ambitious book, not a lengthy one: in less than 300 pages Hobson addresses one core topic of human psychology, how human thinking develops and what distinguishes it from that in other primates. Its focus is on development in infancy and it strongly affirms that perspectives derived from unusual, atypical development such as that of the autistic child or the blind child have singular value in challenging our usual ways of thinking about thinking.

Beyond this Hobson sets himself an integrative task. He practices as psychiatrist, as experimental psychologist and as psychoanalytic psychotherapist. He seeks to bring together these three perspectives, his own three professional identities. The quest is a scientific one but clearly a personal one too and this dual purpose gives the book not only a learned quality but a live one. Another aim is to make the book reader-friendly. The author thought that his first book, Autism and the Development of Mind, may have deterred many by its very density and erudition and he was determined not to repeat this effect.

Therefore it seems that Hobson has a formidable agenda: to examine a major topic in a work of modest scale, in an integrative fashion and without losing the application and interest of his readers. Along the way Hobson is also clearly positioning himself amongst competing theories of the academic world, another objective.

He embarks with the neonate in ‘the support and mind-enhancing containment of an interpersonal cradle’.

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