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Schechter, M.D. (1967). Psychoanalytic Theory as it Relates to Adoption. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:695-708.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:695-708

Psychoanalytic Theory as it Relates to Adoption

Marshall D. Schechter, M.D.

Samuel Kaplan opened the morning session by focusing the discussion on the steadily increasing effort made by psychoanalysts to utilize their knowledge and skills toward solution of pressing social problems. He felt that the panel on adoption constituted one of the first organized efforts on the part of the American Psychoanalytic Association to study a specific legal and social issue from the point of view of psychoanalytic theory and practice. In his review of the literature, preparatory to the morning presentation, Kaplan dealt first with the incidence of emotional disturbance in adopted children and then with psychological issues peculiar to the adopted child. Included among many controversial issues were those revolving around the timing and method of informing the child about his adopted status.

He referred to articles by Schechter, Toussieng, and others which pointed to the high incidence of adoptees in psychiatric practice. Conversely, there were Bernard, Goodman, and Kirk who suggested that the reports from guidance clinics, agencies, and physicians could not measure adoptee outcomes in general. These people felt that so far no reliable figures are available for comparing the rates of maladjustment for nonadoptive and adoptive children.

Disagreement was noted in the literature on the specificity of psychopathology. Thus, Chess believes that the adoptive factor was only secondary and complicating in nature and never the nucleus of the adoptee's psychological problems. Other authors suggested that the stresses and strains that might be found in the relationships of parents and child depend on the interplay between particular attributes of the parents and the facts and fantasies revolving around the child's adopted status. Authors who saw the adoptive status as of primary etiological significance tended to emphasize the dramatic impact of early separation, multiple placements, and the child's discovery of his adopted status relatively late in childhood.

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