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Melega, M.P. Herzog, J. (2000). Mother and Baby. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(4):803-804.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(4):803-804

Mother and Baby

Marisa Pelella Melega and James Herzog

The panel was opened by Marisa Pelella Melega, who established a historical perspective and introduced the panellists. The first presentation was made by Joy Osofsky, from New Orleans. Her paper was entitled: ‘The parent-infant relationship and infant mental health’. Osofsky reviewed the importance of reciprocity in the parent infant relationship, citing recent work on intergenerational transmission of attachment capabilities and liabilities. This led her to a discussion of risk factors in the earliest relationship and the particularly jeopardising potential of a maternal traumatic history. Osofsky highlighted the skewing of the early mother child relationship that can result from adolescent parenthood and from maternal depression.

The presentation briefly touched on the issue of relational representation and the staying power of initial representations as well as their plasticity, and then proceeded to a discussion of trauma as a pathogenic factor in young children and models of treatment that might benefit both relational aberrations and resultant traumatic disruptions. Osofsky championed approaches that utilise successive approximations of preceding traumas in a fashion that both detoxifies and fosters increasing mastery and competence.

Esperanza Perez de Pla, from Mexico, presented a hospital-based intervention with a child with multiple functional and psychological dilemmas. Her paper, entitled: ‘Affects, body and word in the mother-baby relationship; reflections derived from clinical material’, tells the story of Paloma, a ‘failure-to-thrive’ child with oesophageal reflux and respiratory difficulties and her mother, Ana.

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