Monash University

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Reason: Under embargo until Jan 2018. After this date a copy can be supplied under Section 51(2) of the Australian Copyright Act 1968 by submitting a document delivery request through your library

"You survived it!": the infant, 'infant' mother and 'infant' observer: themes of disconnection and connection in an infant observation

posted on 2017-01-31, 00:44 authored by Daniel, Sarah
Infant observation is an established learning experience for many students of psychoanalysis and other clinical and human service disciplines. It provides an opportunity for the observer to connect with the experience of an infant, typically via weekly visits during the first year or two of life. Along with helping the student to develop their skills in observation and to give consideration to their own experience while holding in mind the infant and family, the observer aims to develop an understanding of ordinary early development. A number of observers have explored the more challenging aspects of infant observation and this has also contributed to learning in the field. This is a study of an infant observation that posed some rich questions for the observer, namely whether the infant's experience was predominantly good, bad, or equally both. 'Disconnection' and 'connection' were chosen as descriptive terms that best reflected this dichotomy. This paper is a qualitative study of these themes with the aim of better understanding what accounted for the disconnected experiences of the family and observer, and to also look to the moments of connection to see how this helped integrate the infant's experience. The impact of the theme of disconnection on the observer's experience of supervision and note-writing is also a feature. What emerges is the importance of the feeding relationship for this mother-baby pair to help counter the experience of disconnection and paralleling this, the containing function of the supervision group to integrate the observer's knowledge and understanding.


Principal supervisor

Frances Thomson-Salo

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