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Freud, A. (1969). John, Seventeen Months: Nine Days in a Residential Nursery by James and Joyce Robertson. Psychoanal. St. Child, 24:138-143.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 24:138-143

John, Seventeen Months: Nine Days in a Residential Nursery by James and Joyce Robertson

Review by:
Anna Freud

We owe James and Joyce Robertson a considerable debt for confronting us with happenings in the lives of young children which otherwise are brought to our notice only once removed through the verbal accounts of adult witnesses, or removed in time through their later revival and reconstruction in analytic therapy. The demonstrations ad oculos offered by the Robertsons' films are, to my mind, "direct observation at its best."

These films have gained wide acclaim and have engaged their viewers' interest in a whole range of topics. There was Laura, aged two, doing her inadequate best to cope with the double experience of separation and hospitalization; Sally, aged twenty-one months, meeting bodily discomfort, medical interventions, and the strangeness of hospital life, supported by her mother's presence; Tom, the thalidomide victim, growing up painfully but courageously as the only cripple in the tumultuous world of normal nursery children; there were Kate, two years and five months, and Jane, seventeen months, in brief separation from their own homes, their distress handled and alleviated by an exceptional type of foster care.

What was brought home to us in each instance was the impact of the external circumstances on the children's inner experience, as evidenced by their facial expressions, their motor responses, their outbursts of emotion, and, quite especially, the relationship between their general behavior and the length of duration of the stressful situation.

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