Selma Fraiberg, born March 8, 1918

Selma Fraiberg, social worker and psychoanalyst, would have been 100 on March 8. I still give her book, The Magic Years, to new parents as it remains, even after nearly 60 years, a rich and thoughtful exploration of the inner lives of infants and young children. Based in a deep understanding of child development rooted in psychoanalytic theory, Fraiberg, always empathic with the experience of parents, uncovers the meaning of early childhood behavior and offers parents a framework for civilizing their children in healthy and nourishing ways. Fraiberg is also remembered for her seminal article, “Ghosts in the Nursery,” which has been … Continue reading Selma Fraiberg, born March 8, 1918

Thoughts on The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book

Beatrice Beebe has been observing mothers and infants for many years. She reveals much of what she has learned in language appropriate for parents, teachers, and clinicians alike in her 2016 book, The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book.  Beebe has analyzed hours of split screen video in which mothers interact with their 4 month old infants. One of the most astonishing findings from the microanalysis of these videos is: These parent-infant communication patterns predict infant attachment patterns at one year, a key milestone in the infant’s development…An infant’s attachment pattern at one year predicts many aspects of the child’s development, including school … Continue reading Thoughts on The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book

Is there such a thing as too much play? Part 2

In an earlier post, I wrote about the contradictions we in modern society have about play. On one hand, we trivialize play and see it as a waste of time, only appropriate for children, not for adults who should be attending to more serious matters. On the other, we express nostalgia for an era when there was more time for undirected play.

The work of psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe offers a framework for understanding this ambivalence and our split views about play. Continue reading “Is there such a thing as too much play? Part 2”

Two Winnicottian Podcasts

Two podcasts featuring Winnicott  offer listeners very different ways of thinking about human engagement with ideas, each other, the outside world and ourselves. Each asks Winnicottian questions about how an individual identity is constructed in relation to human and non-human objects and about how human thought and creativity emerges. Continue reading “Two Winnicottian Podcasts”

Lars and the Real Girl & Winnicott


In the opening credits of Lars and the Real Girl, protagonist Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) is pictured looking out of the window of his garage apartment, warming himself with a blanket that we later learn was knitted for him by his mother when she was pregnant with him. In this close-up of his face, the blanket covers his mouth, so the only indication of his state of mind is the expression of his eyes. The feeling is somber, intensified by the apparent cold temperature. In the frosty window pane is the reflection of the dark and cloudy sky. The film opens with the shot of a lone man, one we will soon learn is terrifyingly lonely, and with a cold feeling, mediated only by the soft, handmade blanket. Continue reading “Lars and the Real Girl & Winnicott”