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Sidoli, M. (1983). De-Integration and Re-Integration in the First Two Weeks of Life. J. Anal. Psychol., 28(3):201-212.

(1983). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 28(3):201-212

De-Integration and Re-Integration in the First Two Weeks of Life

Mara Sidoli

The Subject of this paper derives from my experience of ‘Infant observation’, both during my training and in the seminar on infant observation that I am at present running at the Society of Analytical Psychology in London.

I will briefly describe the method adopted for the observations because their content will emerge as my discussion proceeds, and I will show later how the method, initially developed by Mrs Esther Bick in the psychoanalytic field (BICK I), could be applied to analytical psychology, adopting Michael Fordham's theoretical model of infancy based on the postulates of C. G. Jung. The title, ‘Infant Observation’, is a jargon abbreviation of the fuller title, Observation of a nursing couple; mother with her infant from birth to the second year of life. I feel the need to specify this in order to clarify any doubts which might arise about the validity and feasibility of observing an infant on his own. At the same time, in the initial seminar with the student when the prospective parents are described and, so to speak, introduced to them, it is stressed that the observer's attention should be focused primarily on the infant within the nursing couple, as if filming a scene in which the baby is the protagonist. The observation takes place at the baby's home, lasts for about one hour a week over a period of two years, and usually begins with a meeting with the parents before the birth of the baby. In the course of the seminar following that first meeting, the observer shares with the group his or her impression of the interview, assessing as far as possible the family's emotional stability and reliability. It is hoped that a fair estimate can be reached as to whether or not to engage in the observation of that particular family, and to establish whether the parents will be able to tolerate the observer's presence without too many destructive projections that could be damaging to the relationship between the mother and the baby.

The mother, the father and all other members of the family appear in the observations in roles of greater or lesser importance: they are siblings, grandparents and various relatives and friends who happen to be present at the moment an observation takes place.

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