Bringing Up Baby: The Psychoanalytic Infant Comes of Age


Psychoanalysis has moved a long way from the techniques of classical psychoanalysis but these changes have not been understood or disseminated to the wider community. Even university scholars and students of psychology have an archetypal view of the original form of psychoanalysis and do not appreciate that major changes have occurred. This book commences with a detailed outline of the origins of psychoanalysis and an explanation of key terms, which are often misinterpreted. The second chapter examines the changes that have occurred in theorising and practice over the past 120 years and explores key developments. The following chapters contain an interview with a practitioner working in one of each of the four major branches of modern psychoanalysis – object relations, attachment informed psychotherapy, intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy, and relational and intersubjective theory. There follows textual, content, conceptual, and thematic analyses of the transcripts of interviews and commentaries on a therapy excerpt exploring commonalities and differences among these theoretical approaches. The book closes with a consideration of how these differences translate into clinical practice. This book aims to appeal to a wide audience, including clinical practitioners, students of psychology and psychotherapy, the informed lay public, and those thinking about commencing an analysis.

Pascal on 12/10/2015 

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“This uniquely constructed book reviews four of the current main models of psychodynamic psychotherapy as it is theorized and practised clinically. The four models (object relations, attachment theory, exsistential/phenomenological and ISTDP) are firstly elucidated via in depth interviews with a major proponent of each model. Each clinician then comments on a transcript of a psychoanalytic session, assessing both the therapist’s interventions and interpretations, and the patient’s functioning. The format, unique in my experience, offers an ideal training tool for teachers and students of the psychodynamic psychotherapies. I recommend this book highly, especially to courses at the master and doctoral level of training. It brings a clarity to both concept and technique of psychotherapy.”

From the Foward

Studying and understanding infancy has always been a major challenge. Daniel Stern (1985), in his book, The Interpersonal World of the Infant, expresses this concern thus: Since we can never crawl inside an infant’s mind, it may seem pointless toimagine what an infant might experience. Yet that is at the heart of what we really want and need to know. What we imagine infant experience to be like shapes our notions of who the infant is. These notions make up our working hypotheses about infancy (p.4).

Professor Kenny has taken on an immense and daunting task – to attempt, through multiple kaleidoscopic lenses, to articulate infant experience. She states at the beginning of Chapter 1 that the two central constructs in her text are ‘infancy and psychoanalysis’. Yet this remarkable book offers so much more than that, covering as it does the major theories and ideas from the past century or more that have informed our thinking and behaviour concerning infants: how they should be known, understood and cared for so that they set off on the best possible trajectory for the rest of their lives. The intention is to promote high quality care for infants by setting out, for inspection and debate, the diverse views, sometimes influential despite the lack of quality evidence, in this vast and controversial field.

Parents know only too well what strong emotions issues related to infant care elicit and how everyone around them, including total strangers, will forcefully offer advice and instructions. Many readers of this book will, just as I did, want to argue about some of the author’s contentions, but will then pause and re-examine their own views and identify implicit cherished, yet anachronistic beliefs that are no longer supported by the evidence


Professor Bryanne Barnett AM

School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales

Perinatal and Infant Psychiatrist, St John of God Health Care, NSW

Karitane Early Parenting Services


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Early infant experience: Undifferentiated, merged, and autistic-contiguous or differentiated, dyadic, and dialogic  

In this short article, I hope to challenge readers to think about the evidence for the enthusiastic acceptance, if not passionate embrace in psychoanalytic circles, of the notion that early infant experience is undifferentiated, merged, and autistic-contiguous.

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From The Forward

In this book Dianna Kenny sets out to discover what remains of Freud in contemporary psychoanalytic practice. To do this, she engages us in an intensive dialogue with four eminent practitioners. While no four people can be said to be representative of an entire community of practitioners they are each distinctive and different with respect to their theoretical framework and the cultural milieu within which they operate. After the interviews, she lets them loose on a therapy transcript, which acts as a kind of Rorschach inkblot onto which they project their fantasies about the patient and the therapist.

Before we meet the four clinicians, Professor Kenny sets the scene with an unusually lucid exposition of the core ideas of Freud and post-Freudian psychoanalysis. This is an heroic task to accomplish in two chapters but she achieves it with remarkable fluency. Inevitably some detail is missing but the core ideas are so clearly enunciated that these chapters alone will prove to be invaluable to any person seeking to navigate this complex and jargon-infested territory. 

Professor Robert King PhD
Queensland University of Technology

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