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Barish, K. (2020). The Importance (And Limitations) of Affective Neuroscience for Psychotherapy with Adolescents: A Discussion of Leon Hoffman’s Article. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 19(3):230-238.

(2020). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 19(3):230-238

The Importance (And Limitations) of Affective Neuroscience for Psychotherapy with Adolescents: A Discussion of Leon Hoffman’s Article

Kenneth Barish, Ph.D.

I am pleased to be able to offer a discussion of Leon Hoffman’s excellent article on the “contradiction and paradox” of adolescence. My understanding of adolescence coincides with Hoffman’s in many respects. I agree with Hoffman that “affects are at the heart of the clinical encounter” and about the relevance of affective neuroscience to clinical understanding. In this discussion, I will add some additional thoughts on these topics, highlighting the importance of positive emotions. I will present an affect-centered, psychodynamic model of child and adolescent psychopathology, consistent with affective neuroscience, and consider the case example presented by Hoffman from the perspective of Heinz Kohut’s developmental theory.

Psychoanalytic perspectives on adolescence

I would like to begin with a brief history of psychoanalytic (and some non-psychoanalytic) theories of adolescence. In the third essay of the Three Essays on Sexuality (1905/1957), The Transformations of Puberty, Freud identified two essential tasks of adolescence: (1) detachment from parental authority and (2) “finding an object.” For Freud, finding an object requires the development of mature sexuality – a sexual life that brings together the sensual and affectionate currents of love, in which the component sexual instincts are subordinated to the primacy of the genital zones. Anna Freud (1958) extended these ideas. For Anna Freud, in healthy adolescent development, “the adaptation of latency” has to be abandoned.

[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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