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Alvarez, A. (1989). Development Toward the Latency Period: Splitting and the Need to Forget in Borderline Children. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):71-83.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):71-83

Development Toward the Latency Period: Splitting and the Need to Forget in Borderline Children

Anne Alvarez

The Latency Period and Latency Era Tasks

There is a paper by Kanter in the International Review of Psychoanalysis (1984) in which he points out that, with the increasing emphasis on the out-patient treatment and the rehabilitiation of the schizophrenic patient, the concept of “resocialization” is frequently utilized, but rarely defined or clarified. Perhaps, he suggests, this is the result of the lack of dialogue between the field of psychoanalysis and psychiatric rehabilitation. His paper attempts to bridge that gap, examining the unfolding intra-psychic and intra-personal processes taking place in adult chronic schizophrenics on a day unit. Its perspective is psychoanalytic but also insistently developmental, and it focusses on the deficits in the patients' personality, deficits which arise from “inadequate negotiation of latency era tasks, especially as regards ego skills in relation to the extra familial social environment”. The patients were getting individual psychoanalytic therapy and some drug treatment, too, but Kanter suggests that they particularly needed also the latency-type experiences that were provided for them in the non-interpretive setting of the day unit. In fact, he suggests that the dyadic nature of individual psychotherapy naturally lends itself to a reworking of emotionally intense parent/child dramas from the pre-Oedipal, Oedipal and adolescent periods: he maintains that this may underestimate the importance of the relative calm of latency development, which he says largely transpires apart from the family (1984).

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