The Transitional Phase

Video 05:08


At some point babies learn that they are individuals. D.W. Winnicott dubbed this process the “transitional phase”. First, a subjective reality is constructed in partnership with the parent. The infant has an internal instinctual stimulus: hunger, and the parent magically responds to this stimulus. The infant believes they are creating the breast, it appears as the infant desires it. The illusion is created that the breast (or bottle) is “part of the infant.” Hunger is an internal stimuli and so the infant first creates a subjective reality. The parent then proceeds to disillusion the infant through a slow, careful decline in responsiveness, which results in the transition between a solely subjective reality to one which includes an objective reality. At this transitional point, the infant is “becoming able to accept difference and similarity.” Winnicott theorizes this experience begins with the initial activity of babies sucking their thumb and/or caressing their face with their fingers. During this time the infant begins recognizing and introducing “other-than-me” objects. 


Tamara Rosenblum is a Los Angeles based artist working in video and photography. Her videos make use of Absurdist theatrical texts to explore the psychology of intimacy. She received her MFA from the California Institute for the Arts in 2013.



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