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Prager, D. (1960). Psychodynamics of Family Life. Diagnosis and Treatment of Family Relationships: By Nathan W. Ackerman, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1958. 379 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 29:413-416.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:413-416

Psychodynamics of Family Life. Diagnosis and Treatment of Family Relationships: By Nathan W. Ackerman, M.D. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1958. 379 pp.

Review by:
Daniel Prager

Ackerman offers two 'core concepts' by which the 'psychosocial dynamics of family life may be operationally defined'. The concept of psychological identity and values refers to the direction and content of strivings; the concept of stability refers to the organization and expression of behavior in action. Identity answers the questions 'Who am I?' or 'Who are we?', for identity of the self is closely related to identity of the family. Stability of behavior includes the continuity of identity in time, the control of conflict, and the adaptability and 'complementarity' of individuals in new role relationships. 'Complementarity' refers to 'specific patterns of family role relations that provide satisfactions, avenues of solutions of conflict, support for a needed self-image, and buttressing of crucial defenses against anxiety'. But these 'core concepts' are not clearly integrated by the author with family diagnosis and therapy.

Family therapy is described as complex. Diagnosis of the family is achieved by study of histories of members of the family, and records of group interviews with them, obtained by psychiatrist, psychologist, and social worker. The psychiatrist decides upon the treatment to be used with each member of the family; he may recommend social therapy, educational guidance, intensive psychotherapy of an individual, or psychotherapy of groups of two or three or of the entire family. In an emergency, a professionally trained person may be assigned to live temporarily with the entire family. The therapists must meet together periodically with the entire family group 'to deal with certain layers of shared conflict'.

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