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Magagna, J. (2016). Young children and their parents: perspectives from psychoanalytic infant observation. J. Child Psychother., 42(2):241-243.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(2):241-243

Book reviews

Young children and their parents: perspectives from psychoanalytic infant observation

Jeanne Magagna

How might a parent or mental health worker best learn about a specific individual child? I think this is most effectively done through direct observation of the child in their home setting in the context of their spontaneous interactions with members of their household – nannies, babysitters, grandparents and family members other than the parents. Ideally, observations would be sequential, taking note of all aspects of the child, and would be followed by space for reverie on the meaning of the interactions, and then attempts to compassionately understand the specific child. One would also want to know how the child is similar or different from other children from the same cultural context in order to understand the normal physical, social, emotional and intellectual development one could expect of the child.

Not all parents and mental health professionals have the luxury of doing three years of direct observation of a child spontaneously interacting with family members; however, through this book, Young Children and their Parents, one has an important opportunity to vicariously observe through Gertraud Diem-Wille’s lens. She presents detailed observations of three children carried out weekly over a three-year period: through these observations the reader is able to see lives full of love and aggression, ups and downs, distilled into pictures that can often act as windows into the soul of those captured. The high quality of Diem-Wille’s observations facilitates the best opportunity for those unable to undertake these careful, regular and lengthy comparative observations of children developing in their families.

[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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