Psychoanalytic Dyadic Perspectives on Human Development: From Birth through The Second Year of Life

Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2023-24, 1st Trimester — Fridays, 1:45-3:15pm
Tuba Tokgoz, PhD FIPA


This course will introduce students to psychoanalytic perspectives on development from birth up to the third year of life. We will consider development using the diverse lenses of observation, theory, and research. As a unique opportunity to see the relational capacities of infants, the course will utilize videos that follow one infant and mother over a two-year period. We will look for the beginnings of the parent-infant relationship through the ways the infant is held, fed, bathed, looked at, comforted, put to sleep, diapered and dressed. We will consider the early development of psychic process and mental structure, infantile sexuality and psychosexual stages in relation to observation video material. Videos will highlight preverbal communication and language acquisition, play and fantasy, separation-individuation, object constancy and the beginning of symbolization. Trauma transmission, containment and affect regulation will be considered as they apply to development. We will explore the intensity and intimacy of transference and countertransference in relation to the observation material. Case examples of parent-infant and toddler treatment, as well as adult cases describing “the infant in the adult” will also be examined.

This course is a collaboration between The Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and the Anni Bergman Parent-Infant Program, which is affiliated with both the Contemporary Freudian Society and the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  1. study and discuss major works in psychoanalytic literature on the development of babies from birth to the third year of life.
  2. follow one infant and mother through videos over a two-year period, allowing them to utilize observation video material to integrate and examine psychoanalytic ideas on infant development.
  3. apply the concepts of the course to both child and adult cases they work with.

September 8, 2023 — The Newborn’s and the Parent’s Relational Capacities

[21 pages]


  • C-Section Video
  • Breast crawl video

Bick, E. (1968). “The experience of the Skin in Early Object-Relations.” IJP 49:484-486

Hofer, M.A. (1995) Hidden Regulators: Implications for a New Understanding of Attachment, Separation and Loss in Attachment Theory: Social, Developmental and Clinical Perspectives, Goldberg, S.; Meier, R.; & Kerr, S. (Eds). New Jersey: Analytic Press, pp203-211.

Moskowitz, S. (2011) Primary Maternal Preoccupation Disrupted by Trauma and Loss: Early Years of the Project. Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy 10:229-237.

Optional Reading

Hofer, M.A. (2014) The emerging synthesis of development and evolution: A new biology for psychoanalysis. Neuropsychoanalysis 16:3-22.

September 15, 2023 — Co-Regulation and Containment

[155 pages]


  • Mother breastfeeding baby; diaper change; second feeding
  • Baby waits in stroller

Freud, S. (1905) Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud 7:123-246

(Read pages 172-176 and 179-188.)

Isaacs, S. (1948). The Nature and Function of Phantasy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 29:73-97.

Overman, B.A. & Welle, D.L. (2016). “Developmental care of the well newborn” in Care of the Well Newborn. New York: Bartlett and Jones Press, pp194-199.

(Begin reading at bottom of page 194, “Midwives and pediatricians…”)

Optional Reading

Winnicott, D.W. (1960). The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:585-595.

September 22, 2023 — Dyadic emotional communication

[23 pages]


  • Baby spitting up while Mother discusses the birth and the bris
  • After bath, Baby sucking Mother’s chin

Tronick, E.Z. (1989). Emotions and emotional communication in infants. American Psychologist, 44(2): 112-119.

Bucci, W. (2011) The Interplay of Subsymbolic and Symbolic Processes in Psychoanalytic Treatment: It Takes Two to Tango—But Who Knows the Steps, Who’s The Leader? The Choreography of the Psychoanalytic Interchange. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 21:45-54.

(Read pages 45-46.)

Bion, W.R. (1962). The Psycho-Analytic Study of Thinking. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:306-310.

Optional Reading

Tronick, E.Z. (2001) Emotional Connections and Dyadic Consciousness in Infant-Mother and Patient-Therapist Interactions: Commentary on Paper by Frank M. Lachmann. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 11:187-194.

September 29, 2023 — Early Development of Play and Symbolization

[30 pages]


  • Baby in tub playing with toys
  • Baby with spoon at dining table

Winnicott, D.W. (1941) The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 22:229-249.

Winnicott, D.W. (1953). Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena—A Study of the First Not-Me Possession. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 34:89-97.

October 6, 2023 — Further Development of Play and Symbolization

[15 pages]


  • Mother and Baby playing on the floor
  • Baby playing peek-a-boo with Mother

*The mid-term class evaluation will be conducted during this session. Please use these questions to facilitate your discussion: Midterm Evaluation Questions

Winnicott, D.W. (1971). Chapter 3: “Playing: a theoretical statement” in Playing and Reality. London: Tavistock Publications, pp38-52.

Optional Reading

Mahler, M.S.; Pine, F.; & Bergman, A. (1975) The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant. Symbiosis and Individuation. New York: Basic Books.

October 13, 2023 — Separation-Individuation: 18-month nodal point

[10 pages]


  • Baby crawling away from Mother
  • Baby crying for Mother at bathroom door

Mahler, M.S. (1972). On the First Three Subphases of the Separation-Individuation Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:333-338.

Freud, S. (1920) Beyond the Pleasure Principle. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud 18:13-16.

(Fort Da)

Optional Reading

Bergman, A. & Fahey, M.F. (1999) "The Space Between Mother and Child” in Ours, Yours, Mine: Mutuality and the Emergence of a Separate Self. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. pp33-34.

October 20, 2023 — The Role of Mirroring in Development

[36 pages]


  • Boy making sense of his shadow
  • Still Face Experiment
    Baby and Mother at dining table

Winnicott, D.W. (1971). Ch 9, “Mirror-role of Mother and Family in Child Development” in Playing and Reality, pp111-118.

Fonagy, P.; Target, M. (1998). Mentalization and the Changing Aims of Child Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 8(1):87-114.

(Read pages 87-96.)

Optional Reading

Fonagy, P.; Steele, M.; Steele, H.; Moran, G.; & Higgitt, A. (1991) The capacity for understanding mental states: The reflective self in parent and child and its significance for security of attachment. Infant Mental Health Journal 12:201-218.

October 27, 2023 — Separation and Trauma

[41 pages]


“A Two-year Old Goes to Hospital”

Bowlby, J., Robertson, J., and Rosenbluth, D. (1952) “A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital”. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 7:82-94. (film)

Fraiberg, Selma, Adelson, Edna and Shapiro, Vivian. (1975) “Ghosts in the Nursery: A Psychoanalytic Approach to the Problems of Impaired Infant-Mother Relationships.” Journal of American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 14(3): 387-421.

Ferenczi, S. (1949). Confusion of the Tongues Between the Adults and the Child—(The Language of Tenderness and of Passion). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 30:225-230.

Optional Reading

Selection of published meeting notes. (1952) A Two-Year Old Goes to Hospital: A Film Shown By John Bowlby, M.D., and James Robertson. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 46: 425-426

(Read pages 425-426).

Casement, P.J. (1991). Ch6, “Key Dynamics of Containment” in Learning from the Patient, NY: Guildford Publications, Inc. pp111-128.

Casement, P.J. (1991). Ch7, “Analytic Holding under Pressure” in Learning from the Patient, NY: Guildford Publications, Inc. pp129-139.

November 3, 2023 — The Importance of The Third

[53 pages]


  • Observer at the dinner table
  • Observer sitting on couch, facilitating play

Brown, L.J. (2002) The Early Oedipal Situation: Developmental, Theoretical, and Clinical Implications. Psychoanalytic Quarterly 71:273-300.

Gilmore, K. (2011) Pretend Play and Development in Early Childhood (with Implications for the Oedipal Phase). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 59:1157-1181.

Optional Reading

Fivaz-Depeursing and Corboz-Warner. (1999). The Primary Triangle: A Developmental Systems View of Mothers, Fathers, and Infants. New York: Basic Books. pp. xi-31.

Fivaz, E. (2017) The Present Moment in the Primary Triangle. Psychoanalytic Inquiry 37:242-250.

November 10, 2023 — Recapitulation and Reflection

[35 pages]


  • Research video on infant feeding: Mother-Infant Interaction (New York University, 1967)
  • Baby nursing and waving at observer

Norman, J. (2001) The Psychoanalyst and the Baby: A New Look at Work with Infants. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 82:83-100.

Bach, S. (2006), Ch 1, “On Being Forgotten and Forgetting One’s Self,” in Getting from Here to There: Analytic Love, Analytic Process, pp1-17.