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Bernstein, A. (1995). Some Clinical Observations Upon the Emergence of the “Wonder Child”. Mod. Psychoanal., 20(1):43-54.

(1995). Modern Psychoanalysis, 20(1):43-54

Some Clinical Observations Upon the Emergence of the “Wonder Child”

Arnold Bernstein, Ph.D.

Long-term treatment adds a dimension to the treatment process that makes it possible to accomplish long-term goals that brief psychotherapy does not even address. The author identifies and describes an new phenomenon connected to this, an emergence of the “wonder child.” These children are an unanticipated and unreported by-product of longterm psychotherapeutic treatment. They resulf from the beneficial impact of psychoanalytic treatment upon children whose parents are being analyzed. In some cases the most visible results of a patient's treatment are to be seen in the next generation. The appearance of such a “wonder child” is evidence that the intergenerational repetition have been interrupted and the transmission of pathology from generation to generation has been halted. Patients are “shaped” by their analysts and in turn shape their children; much as analysts are shaped by their own analysts and supervisors. Thus a kind of retroflective-transference occurs, a transference from the analysis to the world, which is the reverse of the usual transference. As a result of this retroflective-transference, patients begin to act in a more accepting, objective, nonjudgmental, warm and loving way toward others. In doing so, they become better parents to their children, better children to their parents, and better friends to everyone they know.

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