Infant Observation

Authored by: Margaret Rustin

The Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalysis in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415626927
eBook ISBN: 9781315650821
Adobe ISBN: 9781317308201


 Download Chapter



Observing the behavior of young children has always played a central role in psychoanalysis: Freud’s observation of his grandson’s play with the cotton reel is at the heart of one of his best-known papers (Freud, 1920), and the analysis of Little Hans (Freud, 1909) via his father’s consultations with Freud was the starting point of child analysis as well as a vital source of Freud’s understanding of infantile sexuality. The excitement felt by the early psychoanalysts as the meaning of the behavior of young children became a topic of research expressed the hopes of understanding the early roots of neurotic disorders in adults – of gathering data not of the retrospective variety gleaned in the psychoanalytic treatment of adult patients, but from the study of the contemporaneous events of childhood, of seeing the mind in the making. This work also revealed the much broader potential relevance of psychoanalytic theory for the upbringing and education of children, and in the view of the analysts of the time, the prevention of neurosis.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.