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Esman, A.H. (2015). Pioneers of Child Analysis: Influential Theories and Practices in Healthy Child Development. By Beatriz Markman Reubins; edited by Marc Stephan Reubins. London: Karnac, 2014. 268 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 84(4):1045-1047.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 84(4):1045-1047

Pioneers of Child Analysis: Influential Theories and Practices in Healthy Child Development. By Beatriz Markman Reubins; edited by Marc Stephan Reubins. London: Karnac, 2014. 268 pp.

Review by:
Aaron H. Esman

In this earnest and carefully researched book, Reubins has produced a text that adheres most closely to its subtitle: that is, its principal attention is devoted to the writings of a number of eminent psychoanalysts from three continents concerning the necessary conditions for optimal child development, with considerations and illustrations of clinical technique playing a far lesser role. In each case, a brief biological account (in the case of Freud, not so brief) is followed by a synopsis of the subject's work as it applies to the author's principal interest.

With Freud, of course, this entails an encapsulation of the essential elements and evolution of his theory, emphasizing the Three Essays and the case of Little Hans. In her explications, the author essentially follows Strachey's path (including in the unexplained use of cathexis, which might trouble the novice reader) and offers brief accounts of the several members of the Wednesday group, including their influence and their defections.

It is with the succeeding chapters on Anna Freud and Melanie Klein that diverging pictures of child analysis begin to emerge. Reubins skillfully expounds their specific contributions, crediting Anna Freud—given her now-well-known intricate biography—with the delineation of the mechanisms of defense, the pattern of developmental lines, and the diagnostic profile, as well as with a clinical technique that involved collaborative work with parents. Klein receives a somewhat more extended treatment (consistent, perhaps, with Reubins's training), which delineates her complex life history, her emphasis on the first year of life, her conception of the paranoid-schizoid and depressive phases of development, and her commitment to play therapy and direct interpretation in her clinical work.

[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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