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Urwin, C. (2001). Clinical and Observational Psychoanalytic Research: Roots of a Controversy André Green and Daniel Stern. Edited by Joseph Sandler and Rosemary Davies. London: Karnac. Pp. 163 £15.99.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 15(2):187-191.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 15(2):187-191

Book Review

Clinical and Observational Psychoanalytic Research: Roots of a Controversy André Green and Daniel Stern. Edited by Joseph Sandler and Rosemary Davies. London: Karnac. Pp. 163 £15.99.

Review by:
Cathy Urwin

First introduced into the child psychotherapy training at the Tavistock Clinic by Esther Bick in 1964, the psychoanalytic observation of infants in their own home environments is now a mandatory aspect of many psychoanalytic psychotherapy trainings in the United Kingdom. However, its value as a learning directly relevant to contact with adult patients in the consulting-room is not universally recognised in other parts of Europe and the United States.

Anybody expecting this book to address how far psychoanalytic infant observation could constitute a research method, contributing to psychoanalytic practice or theory, will be disappointed. Otherwise known as the ‘Stern-Green dialogues’, the book, is a product of staging a debate already articulated in the literature between the French psychoanalyst André Green and the American developmental researcher into mother-infant interaction, Daniel Stern.

Stern is well known for his attempts to build a bridge between the clinical infant of psychoanalysis on the one hand and the infant observed by developmental psychologists on the other, and for developing a kind of parent-infant psychotherapy based on identifying problematic aspects of the interaction through using video recording (Stern 1985, 1995). By contrast, Green questions Stern's empiricist assumptions, and argues that Stern's project is irrelevant to the practice of psychoanalysis. Firstly, infant-observational studies address the infantile neither as defined by Freud nor as discovered in the consulting-room, nor the psychoanalytic object which is constituted through the psychoanalytic setting and the psychoanalytic method.

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