Infant mental health people believe in relationships – in the beginning those between parents and their infants – but later of relationships between all sorts of people. We love the idea of connection, between people and countries, between children and their peers, and most of us firmly believe that if we could only get our early relationships right, the world would be a better place. A world where early relationships mould caring citizen’s intent on living a good life, and a place where living a good life is measured by something more than just material values.
While preparing this welcome I was thinking about connection. I wanted to connect the South African Cape Town Congress with the Edinburgh Congress and then in turn with infants. I did not have to look far. The Scottish moral philosopher John Macmurray was born in Scotland; was the Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Witwatesrand in Johannesburg, South Africa between 1920 and 1922, and the Professor of Moral Philosophy at University of Edinburgh. Macmurray died in Edinburgh in 1976. As synchronous as these geographic connections may seem, even more important for WAIMH and our field, was Macmurray’s belief in the primacy of emotion in motivating action, and his focus on infancy for evidence to support his belief in the universal desire for relationships. Macmurray believed that human beings were essentially relational in nature – such a core idea in the thought of Daniel Stern, Rene Spitz, Colwyn Trevarthen, Lynne Murray, Dilys Daws and so many other innovators in the infant mental health field and WAIMH. Without wishing to sound presumptuous I believe that Macmurray would have approved of WAIMH meeting in Edinburgh and that he would have smiled at the motto of the Edinburgh Congress “Babies: Their Contributions, Our Responsibilities”.
The Programme Committee hopes to provide a stimulating and exciting Congress, and in the best traditions of WAIMH connect the clinicians with the researchers, and the researchers with the clinicians. The Programme Committee and I look forward to seeing you in Edinburgh.