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Shapiro, R.L. (1987). The Family in the Psychoanalysis of the Young Adult. Psychoanal. Inq., 7(1):59-75.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 7(1):59-75

The Family in the Psychoanalysis of the Young Adult

Roger L. Shapiro, M.D.

In the years following Freud's abandonment of the seduction hypothesis, interpretations of family experience in psychoanalytic treatment tended to view the patient's internal conception of his family relationships as a subjective distortion, rather than as containing actual characteristics of the parent-child relationship. This internal conception of the family was based on a theory of a maturing drive and defensive organization in the individual that required objects in the family for drive discharge, but did not emphasize the actual characteristics of the relationships with objects. Conflicts within the individual over the build-up of instinctual needs and the internal consequences of defense and delay in drive discharge were the concepts most relied upon to explain symptoms.

During the past 40 years this emphasis has shifted. Many psychoanalytic investigators, among them Erikson (1950, 1968), Jacobson (1964), Klein (1953, 1957), Winnicott (1958, 1965), Fairbairn (1952), Mahler et al. (1975), Kohut (1971, 1977), and Loewald (1980), have focused increasing attention on the actual characteristics of parent-child relationships as important determinants of the developing child's drive and structural organization.

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