Lisa CARTWRIGHT : Emergencies of Survival’ : Moral Spectatorship and the ‘New Vision of the Child’ in Postwar Child Psychoanalysis

By Lisa Cartwright Department of Communication 0503, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

Published in Journal of Visual Culture, Vol. 3, No. 1, 35-49 (2004) DOI : 10.1177/1470412904043597

Drawing on the writings of Luc Boltanski on moral spectatorship and a change to Boltanski’s politics in response to images of distant suffering, this article considers a visual turn in psychoanalysis around the period of the Second World War, coincident with the emergence of a new international vision of the child as an entity requiring special protections beyond the purview of the state. Looking beyond the familiar example of child psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, this article considers the visual techniques of RenÈ Spitz, a psychoanalyst internationally recognized for his work with institutionalized infants who failed physically and psychically to thrive and survive despite adequate nutrition and health care, due to lack of consistent caregiving. The article describes Spitz’s research films which he turned into media texts to make social interventions internationally in institutional childcare practice and policy after the war through venues including the WHO. His work is one of numerous instances of a visual child psychoanalysis (including Anna Freud and Dorothy Burlingham, John Bowlby and James Robertson, Margaret Mahler, and Thelma Fraiberg) in which child psychoanalysts used film and visual techniques to exert influence on international child policy and institutional reform.

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