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Kaplan, E.H. (1975). Selected Problems of Adolescence: With Special Emphasis on Group Formation: Monograph Series of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, No. 3. By Helene Deutsch. New York: International Universities Press, 1967, 136 pp., $6.00. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:239-246.

(1975). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 23:239-246

Selected Problems of Adolescence: With Special Emphasis on Group Formation: Monograph Series of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, No. 3. By Helene Deutsch. New York: International Universities Press, 1967, 136 pp., $6.00

Review by:
Eugene H. Kaplan, M.D.

Following the death of her beloved husband in 1964, Helene Deutsch gave up her practice and withdrew from activities at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. It was not a retreat into permanent solitary inactivity, but a prelude to a redirection of cathexis. This monograph on adolescence was the outcome of her courageous adaptive response to the anguish of mourning. "A stream of teenagers started coming to my house regularly, enticed by their friends' reports that there was a strange woman in Cambridge to whom you could go and talk about anything you pleased."

Helene Deutsch has combined the distillate of a half-century of psychoanalytic experience with an indomitable self-renewal through empathy and avowed identification with adolescents. This volume seems to reflect her unflinching awareness that time is running out. It is like a second draft, in need of further revisions, elaborations, and reorganization.

At the same time, the volume's unfinished quality symbolizes poetically for me the author's marvelous relationship to us, the younger generations. For her gift of wisdom and insights must be worked over to make it our own. Here, wide-ranging considerations of adolescence are not cast in definitive form for uncritical acceptance. Her propositions require evaluation, refinement, and systematization, but they nevertheless improve our conceptualizations about adolescence, and much of the psychoanalytic literature since 1967 reflects their stimulating heuristic.

The phase's basic themes, issues, and conflicts are inherent and unchanging, and Deutsch reviews them with the experience of three generations: the conflict between generations then and now, the importance of sublimation, the reverberations of regressively reactivated narcissism, empathy and its link to identification, and the reactions to sexual maturation. She also underscores adolescence as but one phase of an evolving developmental process.

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