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Meers, D.R. (1985). René A. Spitz: Dialogues from Infancy. Selected Papers: Edited by Robert N. Emde. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1983. 484 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 54:665-668.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 54:665-668

René A. Spitz: Dialogues from Infancy. Selected Papers: Edited by Robert N. Emde. New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1983. 484 pp.

Review by:
Dale R. Meers

Jung, Ferenczi, Abraham, Klein, Sullivan, and later Mahler and Kohut variously extended Freud's seminal reconstructions of the developmental vulnerabilities of infancy and early childhood. They also demonstrated the propensities of psychoanalysts to theorize rather than to methodically research their profound conceptual differences. Spitz did not set himself the task of research clarification. But serendipity and fate presented Spitz, already an analyst of thirty years experience, the opportunity to observe and participate in a naturalistic experiment in which maturing babies were procedurally removed from the care of their incarcerated mothers. For two and a half decades, beginning in the mid-1940s, Spitz and his associates published research findings that extended the elucidation of the neurophysiological foundations of ego functions and primal defenses. Paradoxically, the full relevance of Spitz's ego-psychological observations to analytic concern with narcissistic and autoerotic regression may have been obscured by the very drama of the immediate remediation that followed his identification of hospitalism and anaclitic depression.

Emde's selection of twenty-five of Spitz's best known papers might have been intended to demonstrate the relevance of Spitz's research to the clinical and theoretical controversies that continue to divide psychoanalysis. But Dialogues from Infancy is more a posthumous tribute to Spitz's procreative genius, and Emde's collecting of these papers will be more appreciated by academicians and research historians than by ego psychologists.

Spitz's analytic place is anomalous. He was, perhaps, the first to undergo a formal training analysis, with Freud in 1910. He practiced for thirty years in Vienna, Budapest, Prague, and Paris before initiating his research in the United States. He was respected by child analysts but was largely ignored by other American analysts.

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