Monash University

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"We were waiting for you": understanding a mother's innate expectation for engagement with an infant observation

posted on 2017-02-16, 05:14 authored by Allen, Cassie
Bekos (2007) and Watillon (2002) were pioneers in undertaking empirical research to better understand the mother's motivation for participation in an infant observation. This thesis aims to build on the limited research in the field on the experience of the observed mother in an infant observation, and to consider the innate and instinctual processes of the mother, and her anticipation or expectation for engagement with the observation. The data was drawn from the written recordings of one infant observation and was not obtained with a specific hypothesis in mind; however examination of the data collected generated the hypothesis. It was through a qualitative analysis of the mother's verbal and non verbal communications that the phenomenon of the mother's innate expectation for engagement with the observation was identified. In the absence of existing literature speaking to this phenomenon, Klein's (1959) premise of the infant having an innate unconscious awareness of the mother and mother role from birth forms the theoretical framework for this thesis. In the reported observation the mother presented with a similar unconscious awareness of the observer and it is hypothesised that the mother had been expecting or awaiting the arrival of both the observer and her baby. It is concluded that whilst the phenomenon of the mother's innate expectation for engagement with the observation has not previously been identified in the literature, this anticipation and expectation of 'another' may have significant implications as to how the community supports new mothers. These findings suggest further research on a broader scale is required.


Principal supervisor

Carolyn Coburn

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Psychological Sciences

Campus location



Master of Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences

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    Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Theses


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