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Perelberg, R.J. (1993). The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Young Adults as a Rite of Passage: Discussion of the Conference. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 16(1):95-103.

(1993). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 16(1):95-103

The Psychoanalytic Treatment of Young Adults as a Rite of Passage: Discussion of the Conference

Rosine Jozef Perelberg

This was a rich and thought-provoking day of discussions. Presenting an accurate account of all the important points raised in the papers and the discussions is an impossible task, so I have selected just four main areas. I will briefly present the first, which is the research format itself, and will then discuss in more detail three themes which are of conceptual and clinical relevance.

The four main themes discussed throughout the Conference were:

1.   the research format;

2.   the question of what is specific to young adults, as opposed to older adults and even adolescents;

3.   the importance of the attachment to the ‘preoedipal mother’;

4.   the role of the analyst.

1.   The Research Format

In their paper Professor Fonagy and Dr Tallandini-Shallice outlined the format of the research project. They first pointed out the methodological problems in researching the regularities of the psychoanalytic process without distorting the procedure under observation. This difficulty has been one of the factors leading to the confusion between facts and interpretations in psychoanalysis, whereby psychoanalysts have tended to use arguments of authority to justify their theories.

One of the innovative methodological aspects of this research is


1 Apart from the presenters, the participants who raised points during the discussions included Dr Geoffrey Baruch, Mr Donald Campbell, Dr Sheilagh Davies, Miss Rose Edgcumbe, Dr Mervin Glasser, Dr Ilse Hellman, Dr Janet Humphrey, Mrs Rosalie Joffe, Mrs Egle Laufer, Dr Moses Laufer, Dr Duncan McLean, Dr Jane Milton, Mrs Anne-Marie Sandler, Mrs Antonia Shooter and Dr Josephine Lomax-Simpson.

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