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Weiss, S. (1964). Parameters in Child Analysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 12:587-599.

(1964). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12:587-599

Parameters in Child Analysis

Samuel Weiss, M.D.


This paper concerns itself with the technique of child analysis and the theory of such technique. It raises questions about the validity of many by-now traditional procedures, such as the use of candy, birthday presents, consultations with parents, wooing the child, etc. These procedures constitute deviations from a more classical technique such as exists in adult analysis.

A basic model technique is needed so that one can institute deviations when they are deemed essential and so that their course through the analysis can be followed and ultimately be analyzed. It is necessary in the course of a successful analysis that these deviations, these parameters, be analyzed.

Illustrations of parameters are given, showing how they complicate the therapeutic process and aid or interfere with it. Some parameters were successfully analyzed and some were not; their effect is noted.

Adult analysis has attempted to formulate a theory of technique. A major question is whether this theory has a universal

applicability—to the phases of childhood as well as to adult life. Does child analysis have conditions that differ from adult analysis in a fundamental way? Do developmental considerations, such as the immaturity of the child's ego, alter this theory in a fundamental way? Have our preconceptions about the structure of personality so directed our theories of technique that we are unable to validate anything other than what we already believe?

Haug (6) poses the question whether technique should be derived from a theory of technique or whether the theory should be derived from what we find works and doesn't work. Her answer: "Not only is each needed, but both are. It is the going back and forth from the one method of approach to the other which alone makes it possible to arrive at a technique and at a theory which are both valid and progressive."

This paper raises more questions than it answers. It is not definitive, it is not an end point. Hopefully, it is a beginning.

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