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Cohen, T. (2017). Considering Gestational Life. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(5):557-573.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(5):557-573

Considering Gestational Life

Thomas Cohen, DMH

This paper is an exploration into the question, “What does considering gestational life add to analytic theory and practice?” It attempts to situate prenatal experience in the psychoanalytic dialogue, to explore its place in subsequent mental life, to discuss how this may be useful in clinical process, and to reconceptualize some theory in light of a gestational perspective. Neuro-psychoanalytic theory is utilized with an emphasis on nonconscious mental process which takes the form of implicit memory, providing people with a sense of continuity and well-being or stress. Intra-uterine experience can include pain and suffering. Fetal stress is an integral part of prenatal development and its metaphorical use in clinical practice. Three concepts—gestational being/becoming, geatational holding, and objectless intersubjectivity—are offered as ideas to introduce order and conceptual clarity into the ineffable mysteries of in utero process. A gestational perspective is used to describe how the analyst intuitively tracks the patient’s sense of well-being/stress.

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