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Auerbach, J.S. Diamond, D. (2017). Mental Representation in the Thought of Sidney Blatt: Developmental Processes. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 65(3):509-523.

(2017). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 65(3):509-523

Mental Representation in the Thought of Sidney Blatt: Developmental Processes

John S. Auerbach and Diana Diamond

Mental representation was a central construct in Sidney Blatt's contributions to psychology and psychoanalysis. This brief review demonstrates that Blatt's understanding of representation was always informed by basic psychoanalytic concepts like the centrality of early caregiver-infant relationships and of unconscious mental processes. Although Blatt's earlier writings were informed by psychoanalytic ego psychology and Piagetian cognitive developmental psychology, they focused nonetheless on how an individual uses bodily and relational experiences to construct an object world; they also consistently presented object representations as having significant unconscious dimensions. From the mid-1980s onward, Blatt's contributions, in dialogue with his many students, moved in an even more experiential/relational direction and manifested the influence of attachment theory, parent-infant interaction research, and intersubjectivity theory. They also incorporated contemporary cognitive psychology, with its emphasis on implicit or procedural, rather than explicit, dimensions as a means of accounting for aspects of object representations that are not in conscious awareness. Throughout his career, however, Blatt regarded mental representation as the construct that mediates between the child's earliest bodily and relational experiences and the mature adult's symbolic, most emotionally profound capacities.

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