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Zinberg, N.E. (1964). Psychoanalytic Consideration of Aging. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 12:151-159.

(1964). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12:151-159

Psychoanalytic Consideration of Aging

Norman E. Zinberg, M.D.

In his introductory remarks, Martin Berezin called attention to the fact that this panel was held at the same time as that on child analysis, indicating the ever-widening scope of the use of psychoanalytic theory. The study of aging until now has been left to fields other than psychoanalysis, but the increased index of psychoanalytic interest is exemplified by the existence of the Boston Society for Gerontologic Psychiatry with a membership predominantly of analysts. Berezin discussed the difficulty in defining when "old age" begins, and the problems created by physical disability and cultural, youth-oriented attitudes toward the aged. He mentioned the longitudinal study of the superego, ego ideal, and the concept of ego strength as especially apt subjects open to analysts interested in psychoanalytic theory and willing to work with aged patients. The gradually increasing awareness that the aged are more interested in such things as the future or genital primacy than has previously been realized should facilitate psychoanalytic studies. Berezin stressed the need for many clinical observations, as from this panel, so that we do not generalize about the aged too quickly, and that, although we do not think in terms of actual psychoanalysis of the aged, we must bring to bear on the problem our entire experience as analysts and as human beings.

Douglas D. Bond presented "An Analyst's Observation on the Treatment of Older People." His purpose was to interest analysts in working with older persons. Although recognizing the physical deterioration connected with aging, and cautioning against Pollyanna-ish optimism about these later years, he suggested that analysts have been too concerned with certain misconceptions about aging. Particularly have they been overconcerned about psychological rigidity in the aged person. Bond stressed the analyst's wish to treat younger patients so that the years of work, effort, and money that go into analysis would yield a commensurate return.

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