The Infant-Parent Dyad with Björn Salomonsson, MD

We’ve been fascinated this weekend at IPI by Dr. Björn Salomonsson’s account of his psychoanalytic treatment of infants with their parents. To develop an effective theory and technique for helping infants in distress we need to look beyond attachment research and developmental theory to include analytic theory and technique in our approach. It’s easy to believe that the analyst’s words communicate understanding to the parent. But Dr. Salomonsson believes that he can communicate directly with the baby. Many argue that you can’t analyze a baby because analysis is a talking therapy and babies can’t understand words. Others have argued that they do. But here it is important to distinguish between the lexical and the linguistic. True, babies do not understand the words but they respond to the patterns of the language, words, the rhythm of the speech, the affective tone, the authenticity and integrity of the analyst’s interest and reach the baby and give meaning to the experience. The analyst recognizes the baby’s distress, offers calm interest and concern, and conveys hope that the unmanageable distress can be understood and coped with through a process of co-thinking between baby and analyst and between baby and parent. The analyst recognizes the competence and responsibility of the baby to become a partner in the process of recovery.

– Jill Savege Scharff, M.D.


One comment on “The Infant-Parent Dyad with Björn Salomonsson, MD”

  • Thank you Jill for a consise reflection of his points. Many remarked this weekend that his work seemed magical and he was dubbed by some to be The Baby Whisperer. Perhaps what seemed like magic was simply witnessing someone take infants subjectivity so seriously and sincerely working to make contact with them. We do not generally see babies interacted with in these ways. This is what we all strive to do with all of our patients. Why not babies, too? Thank you to everyone who made this weekend possible. It was highly impactful.

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