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Feigelson, C.I. (1974). A Comparison Between Adult and Child Analysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:603-611.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:603-611

A Comparison Between Adult and Child Analysis

Charles I. Feigelson, M.D.

Lili Bussel opened the panel with a brief history of child analysis, emphasizing that with the publication of Anna Freud's The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense, the technique of child analysis incorporated the analysis of defenses, resistances, and transference. In this respect, all analysts are guided by similar technical principles. With children, however, the technique has to be adapted to the developmental level of the child. Bussel added that knowledge of the emotional life of children and their developmental processes is helpful in understanding adult patients, particularly those with a predominance of preoedipal pathology. Child analysis can make an important contribution to adult analysis.

Gertrude Ticho's paper "A Comparison of Adult Analysis and Child Analysis" dealt with the potential countertransference problems in child versus adult analysis. The presence of the parents as "third party" in child analysis represents a potential pitfall for countertransference. When the analyst feels dissatisfied with the child analysand's lack of improvement, his anger may be displaced onto parents (or hospital personnel in an institution), keeping him unaware of a negative attitude toward his patient. On the other hand, the child analyst's dependence on the parents' cooperation is apt to exert increased pressure in the direction of identification with the parents. One manifestation of this is an undue concern for the child's behavioral improvement, as against risking the potential increase in symptomatology that may occur in the analysis of a given conflict. Regressive identification with a latency or prelatency child is a further hazard. This may result in a tendency to provide the child with a good emotional experience in place of analysis, or to encourage an acting out of hostile attitudes toward the parents when the analyst himself is angry at them.

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