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Laufer, M. (1978). The Nature of Adolescent Pathology and the Psychoanalytic Process. Psychoanal. St. Child, 33:307-322.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 33:307-322

The Nature of Adolescent Pathology and the Psychoanalytic Process

Moses Laufer, Ph.D.

MUCH OF OUR UNDERSTANDING OF ADOLESCENCE AND OF adolescent pathology has relied on our insights gained from child development and from adult pathology. Although this is understandable within the context of the history of the development of psychoanalytic thought, there is the danger that we adapt what we know about child and adult pathology so that it fits the ill adolescent's behavior. The severe limitations of such an approach or of such a view of pathology can be seen in the manifold efforts (to my mind, rather unsuccessful) of various people who work with the seriously disturbed adolescent by introducing a variety of therapeutic methods and techniques and assuming that these innovations or changes will yield the answer to adolescent pathology and to the cure of the ill adolescent. The danger is that when these do not work, we say that the adolescent and the adolescent process do not lend themselves to analytic help, rather than ask ourselves what it is that we know and where it is that we are working blindly.

My understanding of the analytic process in relation to the


Director, Centre for Research into Adolescent Breakdown/Brent Consultation Centre, London. Part-time member, Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic.

Presented at a Panel on "The Psychoanalytic Process in Different Developmental Phases" at the meeting of the Association for Child Psychoanalysis, Jerusalem, Israel, on August 21, 1977. An abridged version was presented at a meeting of the British Psychoanalytic Society, October 1977.

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