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Online Lecture: Gerry Byrne

The more loving one…

Infants’ shape shifting to dwell in the mind of the parent

Time & Date:
30th April 2021

via Zoom


Read our Online Training Guidelines here

"It is a harsh reality, I believe, that in the parent-infant dyadic relationship, when, to use W.H. Auden’s words; ‘equal affection cannot be’, it falls to the baby, inevitably, to be ‘the more loving one’. Additionally, in acrimonious separations, parents compete to be seen as ‘the more loving one’. In many such cases, infants and children may shift shapes to remain fitting in the mind(s) of the parent(s).


In this talk, I want to explicate the risks to an infant or child in the mind(s) of the parent(s).


With clinical examples, I will attempt to describe the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the infinite, seemingly inexhaustible variety of ways in which children can, in the mind of the parent, be unseen and unheard, or mis-seen and mis-heard, taken and mis-taken, go un-held or be mis-held, be let fall, or even be thrown and mis-thrown into the mind of another, usually the ‘othered’, parent.


I will also describe, with clinical material, work with parents in the Lighthouse Parenting Programme resulting in shifts in parental mentalizing of the child-in-mind" - Gerry Byrne


The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.


W.H. Auden


Late December: my father and I
are going to New York, to the circus.
He holds me
on his shoulders in the bitter wind:
scraps of white paper
blow over the railroad ties.

My father liked
to stand like this, to hold me
so he couldn't see me.
I remember
staring straight ahead
into the world my father saw;
I was learning
to absorb its emptiness,
the heavy snow
not falling, whirling around us.


Louise Gluck


Gerry Byrne is the Head of Attachment and Perinatal Services for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which include four specialist services for families in the UK:  Infant Parent Perinatal Service (Oxfordshire); Family Assessment and Safeguarding Service (Oxfordshire); Family Assessment and Safeguarding Service (Wiltshire & BaNES), ReConnect (Buckinghamshire). As a member of the FASS team since 1990, he has specialised in the assessment of parent-infant relationships and attachment, and the individual assessment and treatment of parents who have abused their infants. He provides expert evidence in legal proceedings on cases involving child abuse or neglect, assessment of parenting and where child placement is at issue. Gerry presented on the Lighthouse programme on 17 May 2013 –  in a talk called ‘Illuminating the child-in-mind’. Read more of Gerry's bio here


OXPIP Lectures are for professionals working with parents and infants

Please Note: This lecture will not be recorded.


Book via Eventbrite or email to request an invoice.

Please note, our ticket prices have been reviewed as of 1st April 2021

  • Tickets: £30
  • We offer a reduced concession for students/low wage of £20

If you have any questions please contact us.


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