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Escoll, P.J. (1987). Epilogue. Psychoanal. Inq., 7(1):139-140.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 7(1):139-140


Philip J. Escoll, M.D.

In this issue, the contributors generally agree that an appreciation of young adulthood as a developmental phase with special tasks and vicissitudes is vital to psychoanalytic understanding and treating this group. Psychoanalysis is a valid choice for many young adults because of the depth and duration of the difficulties involved. In addition, young adults have the relative personality stability and flexibility to be responsive to analysis. The contributors also stress the importance of understanding the individual in the context of his family, and of the inclusion of sicker patients, the borderlines, within the scope of analytic inquiry and treatment. Left incompletely answered is the question of defect or defensive regression to account for the more primitive patient's pathology. Further uncertainty exists about the significance for the transference in the analysis of the young adult of the relationship with the analyst as a new object.

The contributors approach the young adult from the standpoint of structural theory, self psychology, interpersonal, object relations, and family theory. The evidence would indicate that for each author one or more of these approaches is useful and clinically relevant. Is diversity to be accepted as the prevailing approach to the young adult, or can a way be found to determine if one is more useful? Or, at a particular time in treatment or with a particular case or situation, does one prove more efficacious?

The essays in this issue demonstrate that we are beginning to understand a great deal about young adults. The many unanswered questions suggest that the essential mystery of youth in transition remains.

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