Hidden Persuaders Symposium
Child Psychoanalysis, Observation and Visual Culture
6 April 2019, Freud Museum
Contributors: Ana Antic, Dagmar Herzog, Katie Joice, Ian Magor, Sarah Marks, Daniel Pick, Margaret Rustin, Michael Rustin
As part of a series of public events related to the Hidden Persuaders research project, to coincide with the Wunderblock exhibition at the Freud Museum, this half-day symposium explored the historical and contemporary relationships between child psychoanalysis, observation and visual culture. We were interested to consider, from a historical perspective, how ideas about close observation, child development, and the nature/nurture debate have evolved since 1945. Our focus was largely on clinical and theoretical developments in the post-war decades, including the fields of baby observation, cinematic microanalysis, play technique and the therapeutic use of children’s art.
More generally, this symposium explored a new strand of research within the Hidden Persuaders group, which focuses on how notions of thought control, autonomy and influence change when we consider not only the psychology of adults, but also of children and adolescents. We examine how questions of nurture rather than nature became vitally important after 1945, as societies began to construct a moral vision for a new generation of Cold War babies. We also explore the legacies of these debates for visions of the self, and for child psychiatry and psychotherapy today. This work aims to provoke debate and reflection on historical and contemporary attitudes to the shaping of the mind during childhood and adolescence, opening up a space for discussion about the origins of both psychological harm and mental health.
Melanie Klein, ‘The Psychoanalytic Play Technique’, Paper given to the Royal Medico-Psychological Association (1953)
Margaret Lowenfeld, ‘The Nature and Use of the Lowenfeld World Technique’, The Journal of Psychology (1950)
James and Joyce Robertson, Separation and the Very Young, London: Free Association (1989)
Michael Rustin: ‘What do we see in the nursery? Infant Observation as ‘Laboratory Work”, Infant Observation, 1:1 (2008)