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Shaw, J.A. (1996). The Vulnerable Child, Edited: By Theodore B. Cohen, M. Hossein Etezady, and Bernard L. Pacella. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, xiv + 218 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:323-325.
(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:323-325
The Vulnerable Child, Edited: By Theodore B. Cohen, M. Hossein Etezady, and Bernard L. Pacella. Madison, CT: Int. Univ. Press, 1993, xiv + 218 pp., $30.00.
Review by: Jon A. Shaw
The Vulnerable ChildDevelopment Discussion Group of the American Psychoanalytic Association, chaired by Theodore B. Cohen, M.D., has been meeting for the last 20 years, “studying the psychological development of children burdened by poverty, mental and physical illness, and discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic background and sex.” This volume focuses not only on intrapsychic processes but explores the effects of overwhelming psychosocial and economic adversity.
Dr. Cohen in his introduction understandably asks, “What is the vulnerable child”? It is clear he considers his mandate to extend beyond the usual definition of the vulnerable child as referring to the intrinsic properties of a child. He notes that a child “may be vulnerable if she is born into poverty, born to a mother who has been deserted by the father, born to a mother who has medical or psychiatric problems … born to abusive parents … or the child of a middle-class professional woman who must rely on erratic baby sitters” (p. xvii). Cohen concludes that “there are innumerable external and internal reasons why one child will be considered vulnerable while another is not” (p. xvii). This concept of the vulnerable child as portrayed in this volume is best summarized by Susan Stoll Sodergren's comment in her chapter, “Preventive Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Parents of Vulnerable Children: A Remembrance of Edith Buxbaum.” She writes that “the troubled child is the vulnerable child” (p. 185). While one may question the nonspecificity of this definition, it nevertheless provides the essential rationale for the spectrum of topics addressed in this volume: attachment and bonding, movement patterns, learning disabilities, highrisk nursery school children, echolalia, aggression, trauma and masochism, sexual development in preoedipal females, sexual abuse, and loss and mourning in relation to early parent death, father loss, and divorce.
Unfortunately, the diversity of topics is matched by the unevenness of the quality of the chapters.
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