Selma Fraiberg

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Selma Fraiberg (1918–1981) was a child psychoanalyst, author and social worker. She studied infants with congenital blindness in the 1970s. She found that blind babies had three problems to overcome: learning to recognize parents from sound alone, learning about permanence of objects, acquiring a typical or healthy self-image. She also found that vision acts as a way of pulling other sensory modalities together and without sight babies are delayed. In addition to her work with blind babies, she also was one of the founders of the field of infant mental health and developed mental health treatment approaches for infants, toddlers and their families. Her work on intergenerational transmission of trauma such as described in her landmark paper entitled "Ghosts in the Nursery"[1] has had an important influence on the work of living psychoanalysts and clinical researchers such as Alicia Lieberman[2] and Daniel Schechter[3]

Author of several influential psychoanalytic texts such as: The Magic Years[4] -and- Clinical Studies in Infant Mental Health[5]

In August 1981, Fraiberg was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She died two months later on December 19, 1981 at the age of 63.


  1. ^ Fraiberg S, Adelson E, Shapiro V (1975).Ghosts in the nursery. A psychoanalytic approach to the problems of impaired infant-mother relationships. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,14(3), 387-421.
  2. ^ Lieberman AF, Padron E, Van Horn P, Harris WW (2005). Angels in the nursery: The intergenerational transmission of benevolent influences. Infant Mental Health Journal, 26(6), 504–520
  3. ^ Schechter DS, Coots T, Zeanah CH, Davies, M, Coates SW, Trabka KA, Marshall RD, Liebowitz MR, Myers MM (2005). Maternal mental representations of the child in an inner-city clinical sample: Violence-related posttraumatic stress and reflective functioning. Attachment and Human Development, 7(3), 313-331.
  4. ^ Fraiberg, S.H. (1959). The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early Childhood. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Inc.
  5. ^ Fraiberg, S. (1980). Clinical Studies in Infant Mental Health: The First Year of Life. New York: Basic Books, Inc.