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(p. 87) The Relationship of a Mother to Her Baby at the Beginning 

(p. 87) The Relationship of a Mother to Her Baby at the Beginning
(p. 87) The Relationship of a Mother to Her Baby at the Beginning

Donald W. Winnicott

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date: 01 March 2021

In a mother’s relationship to her baby, Winnicott describes two distinct kinds of identification involved at the start: the mother’s identification with her infant and the infant’s state of identification with the mother. In the expectant mother, there is an increasing identification with the infant and then the normal mother’s recovery from her preoccupation with her infant provides a kind of weaning. When the mother-infant couple is in good working order the infant’s developing ego is strong because it is supported. What Winnicott calls physical and emotional ‘holding’ relates to the mother’s capacity to identify with her infant. The mother as an object for the baby, presenting or realizing (making real) the infant’s creative impulses towards her, initiates the infant’s capacity to relate to objects. Through the evolution of the experience of the nursing-couple, the mother, through different kinds of identification, meets and transforms the infant’s original state of undifferentiation.

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