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Solnit, A.J. (1985). Afterword. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):252-253.

(1985). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):252-253


Albert J. Solnit

The case presented by Mrs Kennedy is in a sense a caricature of what was the least detrimental alternative for Peggy from childhood into and through latency. It seems, paradoxically, to demonstrate how corrosive and damaging the least detrimental alternative was for Peggy. But, disadvantageous as the outcome has been for her, we now have the opportunity to wonder, could it have been better or could it have been worse?

Yes, it could have been either better or worse! In fact, without a full assessment, e.g. using the Hampstead Diagnostic Profile, we do not know how to characterize Peggy's development at present, her strengths and weaknesses and the impairments associated with her traumatizing, depriving childhood.

However, it would have been worse if Peggy had been placed in a foster home under the jurisdiction of the State and if there had then been a protracted struggle between Peggy's parents—especially the mother—and the State about the coercive removal of the child. This might have extended even to the point where the State tried to terminate parental rights on the basis of the incapacity of the parents to provide adequate care for Peggy. This more detrimental scenario might have included several years of uncertainty about where Peggy could feel permanently wanted and rooted, and have involved multiple placements. Finally, after many traumatic disruptions and damage to her personally, she might have been returned to her biological parents, placed for adoption, for long-term foster care or in a clinical facility.


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