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Friedman, M. Glasser, M. Laufer, E. Laufer, M. Wohl, M. (1972). Attempted Suicide and Self-Mutilation in Adolescence: Some Observations from a Psychoanalytic Research Project. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:179-183.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:179-183

Attempted Suicide and Self-Mutilation in Adolescence: Some Observations from a Psychoanalytic Research Project

Maurice Friedman, Mervin Glasser, Eglé Laufer, Moses Laufer and Myer Wohl

In this paper we shall describe some of our findings and express some of our views on the role the developmental process of adolescence plays in the determination of acts of attempted suicide or self-mutilation carried out in adolescence. The paper is based strictly on the clinical material drawn from the psychoanalytic treatment of a number of adolescents who have carried out such acts. Beyond our interest in trying to understand these pathological forms of behaviour is our aim to investigate them in the context of our wider study of mental breakdown in adolescence.

We were influenced in making the choice of such patients for study by the observation that the act of consciously and intentionally attacking one's own body with a view to injury or death rarely occurs before adolescence. We take this observation to indicate that changes in mental functioning in adolescence make it possible for the individual to direct his aggression towards himself in these extreme ways. We have regarded such a focus of interest as of particular importance, since we know that one of the fundamental tasks the ego is faced with in adolescence is the mastery of the revived instinctual drives. While a certain amount is known about this in regard to sexuality, little attention has been specifically paid in analytic thinking to the vicissitudes of the aggressive drive during adolescence and its part in this developmental process.

It would be appropriate here to mention briefly the structure and methods of our research project.

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