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The stream of life: from frozen babies to the birth of psychic life

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This article describes the work with a flexible model having Esther Bick's infant observation model in mind. Having to solve the problem of the many babies in orphanages who had been abandoned and were often sick, I worked out with the psychologist a model of intervention using the knowledge the psychologist had of the approach of infant observation, but adapting it to the context of the orphanage. I helped the psychologist observer to use her countertransference to contain the babies' distress and interact with them in order to give them the possibility of feeling loved and understood, in order to make space in their minds for introjecting a good object. On behalf of the observations that the psychologist, whom I will call Ling, had with babies Bea and Sally, we can say that the dramatic distress of their being abandoned by their families has been worked through because the psychologist was able to give a loving space with significant interaction. The sessions reported in this article give a portrait of the inside world of despairing babies, and document the evolution towards being able to keep in mind a good enough object that can help them survive.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • This peer-reviewed journal proposes to explore the introduction of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic therapy, and the wider application of psychoanalytic ideas into China. It aims to have articles authored by Chinese and Western contributors, to explore ideas that apply to the Chinese clinical population, cultural issues relevant to the practice of analysis and psychotherapy, and to the cultural interface between Western ideas underpinning psychoanalysis, and the richness of Chinese intellectual and philosophical ideas that analysis must encounter in the process of its introduction. Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in China features theoretical and clinical contributions, philosophical and cultural explorations, applications such as the analytic study of art, cinema and theatre, social aspects of analytic thought, and wider cultural and social issues that set the context for clinical practice. The journal is published twice yearly, in English and also in Chinese.
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