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Molinari, E. (2011). From One Room to the other: A Story of Contamination. The Relationship between Child and Adult Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 92(4):791-810.

(2011). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 92(4):791-810

Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique

From One Room to the other: A Story of Contamination. The Relationship between Child and Adult Analysis Language Translation

Elena Molinari

(Final version accepted 14 July 2010)

Does the analyst who works with both children and adults using ostensibly the same theoretical model perform similar mental operations in these two fields? The author suggests that child analysis is rooted in a different creative process from that of adults. Comparing the analysis of children to painting and that of adults to writing, and making use of the debate between Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell on the relative merits of words and images, the author explores the psychoanalytic debate on the role of child analysis in the development of psychoanalytic theory and practice. Child analysis, initially regarded as an application of psychoanalysis, ended up acting as a catalyst for a true epistemological revolution in the 20th century through the work of Klein and Bion. Playing is not only an alternative medium to words for representing the unconscious but a different method for giving shape to representations through a specific creative process.

The reverie which is born in the child analyst's consulting room reproduces itself through the body's actions during play, whereas in the adults’ consulting room the analyst's capacity to dream presupposes the suspension of action. Child analysis, deploying a distinctive creative process that makes use of the body and serves itself of action in its development, may be said to rest on a similar creative process to that of figurative art. For this reason, the child analyst's mind relates to objects in a different way, being in a more prolonged state of fusion with these as a result of ‘concentration of the body’. The significance of the unspeakable things that take place can often only be conceptualized in après-coup.

Although this difference in the development of the process suggests a significant distinction between the two ‘arts’ of child and adult analysis, the aesthetic sensitivity acquired through child analysis can be profitably used with adults, as will be demonstrated with the help of several clinical examples.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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