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O'Shaughnessy, E. (1984). Psycho-Analysis and Infant Research: By Joseph D. Lichtenberg. New Jersey: The Analytic Press. 1983. Pp. 262.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 65:492-495.

(1984). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 65:492-495

Psycho-Analysis and Infant Research: By Joseph D. Lichtenberg. New Jersey: The Analytic Press. 1983. Pp. 262.

Review by:
Edna O'Shaughnessy

The first child psychologist was the President of Clark University, Stanley Hall. He was also the first academic to acknowledge psychoanalysis officially. In the 1880's Hall investigated by questionnaire children's fears and rages, their games and their ideas of self, and he made discoveries about children's interest in sexual matters. In 1909 Hall invited Freud to America to receive an honorary degree and address an audience of psychologists. This first moment of sympathy and confluence of child psychology and psychoanalysis became over the years a mixture of opposition, corroboration, and no relationship at all. The last two decades have seen a surge of research into infancy, the period that psychoanalysis, in various current theories, posits as the foundation of development.

There are thus now two perspectives on infancy, the research and the psychoanalytical, and the question at once arises that is the spring of Lichtenberg's timely book Psycho-Analysis and Infant Research: Is it necessary for each to know about the other? His book is addressed to psychoanalysts and is a plea that they inform themselves of research about infancy so as to assess their own theories and further their understanding and their clinical practice. Lichtenberg is a psychoanalyst of the self-psychology school, who is closely acquainted with infant research. He begins his book with a convincing demonstration of the power of infant research to give a coup-de-grâce to two moribund yet lingering psychoanalytic theories about infancy: the first—tension reduction (drive discharge) is its main governing principle, the second—objects are merely instinctual objects, not primarily related to. Lichtenberg's opening discussions despatch these two theories with lucidity and fine detail and set the high standard of the book.

After swiftly establishing his case for relating research and psychoanalysis, the author proceeds at a more leisurely pace to interweave a selection of research findings about the first two years of life with his own particular psychoanalytic view and emerges with a central contention: eighteen months is the fulcrum of early development, the time when the infant turns into a truly psychic being able to have a mental image of a perceptually absent object.

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