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Freud, A. (1981). The Concept of Developmental Lines—Their Diagnostic Significance. Psychoanal. St. Child, 36:129-136.

(1981). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 36:129-136

The Concept of Developmental Lines—Their Diagnostic Significance

Anna Freud

TO THINK ANALYTICALLY AUTOMATICALLY IMPLIES A DISSECTION of psychic material into its constituent elements, to treat each of these elements as a factor in its own right, and to trace it back to its first appearance within the psychic processes. In the technique of psychoanalytic treatment, it is the analyst's main endeavor to spotlight such items in the patient's unconscious mind, to expose them to consciousness, and then to leave it to the individual concerned to integrate what has been discovered with the rest of his personality. The analyst's task ends where synthesis begins, the latter being one of the most important functions of the ego—a function, moreover, which, according to analytic experience, proceeds best without interference from external influence.

Such limitations are set for and accepted by the analyst who works with adults in the psychoanalytic situation. On the other hand, they do not apply to developmental explorations and, above all, not to the analyst of children. To investigate development, it does not suffice to explore the past. It is equally imperative to follow each psychic element in its forward course until the


Director, Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic, which is at present supported by the Herman A. and Amelia S. Ehrmann Foundation, New York; The Field Foundation, Inc., New York; the Freud Centenary Fund, London; the Anna Freud Foundation, New York; the New-Land Foundation, Inc., New York; and a number of private supporters.

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