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Szajnberg, N. (2004). Response to Dr Fleming. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):528-529.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):528-529

Response to Dr Fleming Related Papers

Nathan Szajnberg

Dear Sirs,

Dr Fleming's response to our longitudinal study of transition to young adulthood emphasizes the significance of IJP as a forum for psychoanalytic cross-cultural research. We thank Fleming and colleagues for the opportunity to respond.

Fleming addresses the first of our two questions: how do young people make the transition to young adulthood? (The second question was: What societal structures guide this transition?) Fleming summarizes their work published in Portuguese (220 suburban young people aged 18-25): many had conflicting feelings anticipating home departure (loss and joy); their motivations for leaving home and their outcomes ranged from success to failure (defined as returning to the parental home). Unfortunately, we do not read Portuguese; we must rely on this brief summary of their findings. Most of their youth experienced autonomy as a positive event. They conclude, ‘leaving home is … modulated by social and cultural features’. This leads to our second question and a challenge to us as psychoanalysts and our societies.

We are pleased that our paper invited a response from Fleming and colleagues. We would need to understand the demographics and their methodologies to compare with our US study. (Ours ranges from working to upper-middle class and uses both semi-structured and narrative interviews in a study from birth to age 30).

Fleming, and we hope others, will add to our knowledge of how societies can facilitate transition to adulthood. Informally, for instance, whereas 75 of our 76 youth went to college (ranging from highly academic to local community institutions), in Finland, for instance, most young men spend about 18 months in the army, which includes an historical immersion in Finnish history and a melding with other young men (Moilanen, personal communication). In Switzerland, a land of few recent wars, young men look forward to their army service and treasure their rifles (Voyat, personal communication).

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