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Kennedy, H.E. (1950). Cover Memories in Formation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 5:275-284.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5:275-284

Cover Memories in Formation

Hanna Engl Kennedy

In the following pages I would like to discuss some early childhood memories, as they were told to me by a child at the beginning of the latency period. The opportunity for this study was rather unique as Bridget was under my care from the age of nine months, when she was admitted to the Hampstead Nurseries. She returned home shortly before her fifth birthday. I was thus responsible for most of her early upbringing, could make first-hand observations on her development, and as her "substitute-family-mother," was an important early love object.

The development of this child is interesting for various reasons, but in this paper I want to concern myself chiefly with her present memories of her experiences at the nursery, as they seem to me of interest for the study of the formation of cover memories.


Bridget is an attractive, vivacious, dark-haired girl of mixed parentage, an Indian father and an Irish mother. She was born in July, 1940, and is the second youngest of five children, of whom two boys and two girls are living at home now. She came from and returned to an extremely good and harmonious working-class home, which had to be broken up during the War because of bombing and the parents' War work. There is no financial stress or material need in the family, but living conditions are crammed. Her mother especially is an emotionally warm woman, demonstrative and outspoken in her affection for the family. Most of this affection was concentrated on Bridget during the early months of the War, as the only child living at home at that time. She is said to have been a happy, contented and very good baby, normal, if not advanced in her physical development. She was never breast-fed, always a good eater, eager for her food and at three months she took to a mixed diet without difficulty. It appears that her first object relationship was an excellent one, and satisfactory for both mother and child. Sudden separation from her mother at the age of nine months was followed three months later by the birth of a baby boy. This made visiting during the first period at the nursery almost impossible for the mother, and undoubtedly increased the traumatic effect of the separation.


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