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Tate Angel, V. (2017). Rock-A-Bye Baby. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 26(1):1-2.

(2017). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 26(1):1-2


Rock-A-Bye Baby

Valerie Tate Angel

In the folk nursery rhyme “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” also known as “Hush-a-Bye Baby” (Engelbreit, 2005), the melodic nature of the song can put a baby to sleep. Yet the words also give the parent permission to sometimes harbor some thoughts that are not necessarily very endearing: “Rock-a-Bye baby on the tree top, When the wind blows the cradle will rock, When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, Cradle and all. Down will come baby, Cradle and all.” Winnicott (1949, p. 73), in “Hate in the counter-transference,” informs the reader that “Rock-a-Bye Baby is not a sentimental rhyme.”

In Lydia Davis’s short story “The old dictionary,” the narrator tells us, “Even though my son should be more important to me than my old dictionary I can’t say that each time I deal with my son, my primary concern is not to harm him” (Davis 2010, p. 374). In the Paris Review (Aguilar & Fronth-Nygren, 2015), Davis tells us that the kernel of her story started with her perception of the idea that the old dictionary was treated better than her son. This writer uses a stream of consciousness in her style, and she is acutely aware of her mind and the mind of the other. This writer holds the mind of her son in her mind. Susan Coates, at the November 13–15, 2015 conference in Paris, France, on “Infant–Parent Disturbance: Theory and Therapy,” chaired by Harold P. Blum and Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor, attended to this basic tenet of mentalization.

[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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