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Scott, W.M. (1962). The Theory of the Parent-infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:248-249.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:248-249

The Theory of the Parent-infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion Related Papers

W. Clifford M. Scott


The speakers' viewpoints seem to me to approach and overlap, but from entirely different starting points. Greenacre's starting point is the maturational and the autonomous, that which I think Freud meant by the 'primary unconscious' or what never becomes conscious. But the conscious comes not only from within; stimuli also come from without. Regardless of how independent we attempt to be, we are never very far away from an alter ego. One thinks of the descriptions Lilly has given of breathless states in a tank of warm water, and we know how much is being learned from experiments of sensory isolation.

How we order the ego: alter ego, whether we call it a world or a person in a world, depends on our age and our sophistication. Winnicott approaches the problem, as I see it, from consciousness to unconsciousness. I think he sees the infant as being conscious sometimes and wonders how he can describe the vicissitudes of this consciousness. We have learned to study the unconscious through the conscious rather than the reverse. In this connexion, the study of pregnant mothers in analysis and the stories they give of their babies' emerging consciousness may help us greatly.

Here I am reminded of a patient who showed all the points that Miss Freud mentioned, but something else as well. This girl had an I.Q. of 80 and had been premature. She came into treatment as she wished to become pregnant, and I had her in analysis during four pregnancies.

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