The purpose of this dissertation was to provide a systematic and comprehensive review of the psychoanalytic literature as it pertains to prenatal psychic experience. The emotional life of the fetus has become an increasingly important topic in psychoanalysis, particularly within object relations theory and theoretical and clinical exploration of primitive mental states. Contemporary psychoanalysts, following the ideas of Freud, Bion, Ploye, Mancia, Grotstein, and Paul have begun to gather research from the fields of infant mental health, developmental psychology, and medicine, among others, to show that not only does the newborn infant have an inherent capacity to communicate with the mothering one but that these capacities may have taken form during the prenatal stage of development. While psychoanalytic theory in the area of prenatal psychic experience has been sparse, to date there have been no attempts to identify and synthesize the literature that exists in disparate areas of psychoanalysis. This dissertation aimed to systematically review the psychoanalytic literature in this area of study and to integrate existing theories and ideas through the use of Grounded Theory methods to provide a context for further inquiry and recommendations for possible clinical application.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Fetal behavior

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Shafranske, Edward;