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(2007). Reviews. J. Child Psychother., 33(2):264-275.

(2007). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 33(2):264-275


The Prenatal Theme in Psychotherapy

Philippe Ployé

London and New York: Karnac, 2006

166 pp., £19.99

The Unborn Child: Beginning a Whole Life and Overcoming Problems of Early Origin

Roy Ridgway, updated and extended by Simon H. House

London and New York: Karnac, 2006

244 pp., £14.99

Judging by the covers of these two books – the first illustrated with the cast of a pregnant woman's torso, the other displaying an eye-catching graphic of an unborn foetus – one might mistakenly think that they had something in common. They do not. Dr Ployé's concern, stemming from his psychoanalytic work, is to highlight the possibility of a particular kind of transference, which he has called the prenatal transference; Ridgeway's theme, on the other hand, is to underline the importance of a good beginning to life (that is, life beginning at, or even before, conception) and the negative effect on society when the unborn child suffers trauma or deprivation. If there is a common denominator between the two authors, it is an interest – speculative in Ployé's case, passionate in Ridgeway's – in the connection between the earliest forms of emotional experience in the womb and postnatal life.

Sadly, Dr Ployé died before the publication of his book, which was therefore published posthumously and has an explanatory Foreword by Alessandra Piontelli. His experience as a psychoanalyst underpins his thesis that in certain cases the analyst may become aware, through countertransference, of a form of prenatal or foetal transference.

[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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