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Gillman, R.D. (1998). The Vulnerable Child: Volume 2. Edited by Theodore B. Cohen, M. Hossein Etezady and Bernard L. Pacella. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1995, 231 pp., 35.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(1):304-306.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(1):304-306

The Vulnerable Child: Volume 2. Edited by Theodore B. Cohen, M. Hossein Etezady and Bernard L. Pacella. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1995, 231 pp., 35.00.

Review by:
Robert D. Gillman

This is the second volume of papers collected from the Vulnerable Child Discussion Groups that for more than twenty-five years have taken place regularly at meetings of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the Association for Child Psychoanalysis. The first two editors of this volume are, respectively, chairman and coordinator of the groups.

These papers call our attention to the devastating effects of trauma on the earliest development of the infant and child, whether the trauma be prenatal drugs, physical and sexual abuse, inadequate mothering, violence in the environment, or the death of caretakers. As child analysts have known for many years (because these traumas occur before their very eyes), the children so affected exhibit disorganization of development along many lines. There is now experimental evidence in animals and abundant clinical work with children showing that there are critical stages at which external input, including adequate mothering and appropriate stimulation, is required for brain growth tied to both cognitive and emotional development.

The volume begins with theoretical papers on narcissism and aggression, by Etezady and by Isaiah Share, Shirley Rashkis, and Bertram Ruttenberg, that serve as background for the clinical papers to follow; discussion is provided by Leon Hoffman. Judith Kestenberg and Ira Brenner contribute a chapter on narcissism in the service of survival in Holocaust victims.

Several papers address the effects of trauma and the need for early intervention, and several of these describe heroic therapeutic work.

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