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Zeavin, L. (2012). The Analyst's Unconscious Reactions to the Baby in the Consulting Room. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 60(3):517-525.

(2012). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 60(3):517-525

The Analyst's Unconscious Reactions to the Baby in the Consulting Room Related Papers

Lynne Zeavin

I begin with a personal example: I am standing in the kitchen with three good friends—one of whom has pictures of a new little grand-daughter, about four weeks old. My friends and I, all of us analysts, stand around, wide-eyed and giddy, looking at each photograph, taking our time, pointing out her features, the quality of her expression, her perfect mouth. Each of us is excited, moved, absorbed by the features of this brand-new baby girl. She is the first grandchild among this group of friends, and that is certainly a part of the response. But, more than that, I am quite certain that we are all taken back in time to memories of our own babies, and the primal feelings of longing elicited by the sight of this baby. The intensity of the reaction is both about this baby and about what babies can evoke in us more generally. The sight of a new baby stirs wishing, perhaps regret, perhaps a feeling of wanting, a feeling that never quite goes away. Babies are embodiments of time and continuity, the shifting, ongoing unfolding of relationships between parents and children, of time that is irretrievable yet vividly recalled via identification with the mother of the baby who is imagined though not seen. As we all look at the photographs there is an unmistakable mood both of possibility and of loss having to do with the recognition that our babies are grown—that the time of their babyhood is passed, and yet, the stirrings caused by a new baby make it seem as though it were all still possible again.

There is always a background when a baby appears in treatment.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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