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Adatto, C.P. (1986). Adolescence and Developmental Breakdown. A Psychoanalytic View: By Moses Laufer and M. Eglé Laufer. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1984. 225 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 55:350-354.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:350-354

Adolescence and Developmental Breakdown. A Psychoanalytic View: By Moses Laufer and M. Eglé Laufer. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1984. 225 pp.

Review by:
Carl P. Adatto

ADOLESCENCE. THE FAREWELL TO CHILDHOOD. By Louise J. Kaplan, Ph.D. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. 400 pp.

These two contributions to the psychoanalytic understanding of adolescence emphasize the unique aspects of adolescent development that set it apart from pre- and postadolescence. The Laufers' book centers on the adolescent period itself rather than dealing with factors from earlier development that may have contributed to adolescent pathology. The authors draw upon extensive clinical experience with severely disturbed adolescents, especially those who have made suicide attempts, in developing their ideas and approaches.

Their thesis is as follows. The resolution of oedipal conflicts is crucial to sexual identification and body image. During adolescence, the content of sexual wishes and of oedipal identifications becomes integrated into an irreversible sexual identity that takes the physically mature genitals into account. The achievement of a final sexual organization is the main developmental function of adolescence. All other tasks, such as changes in object relationships and in attitudes toward one's body, are subsumed within this organization. An important aspect of the adolescent psyche is the "central masturbation fantasy." This contains a key to understanding a given patient. The nature and fate of the fantasy, as it is revealed in analysis, is significant in the assessment of normality and pathology. The same is true about its residues in adulthood. "Developmental breakdown" occurs when adolescents unconsciously reject

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