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Novick, K.K. Novick, J. (1994). Postoedipal Transformations: Latency, Adolescence, and Pathogenesis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:143-169.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:143-169

Postoedipal Transformations: Latency, Adolescence, and Pathogenesis

Kerry Kelly Novick and Jack Novick, Ph.D.


There is a tendency in psychoanalysis to seek ever earlier determinants of pathology. One effect of this search is to relegate adult memories of latency and adolescence to serving mainly a defensive screen function. Psychoanalytic material from child and adolescent cases is used in this paper to illuminate postoedipal developmental transformations. These findings are applied to the understanding and technique of work with adults. Alertness to latency elements can affect the timing of interpretations, the understanding of neurosogenic factors, and the forces for health available in the patient's personality. Alertness to adolescent phenomena highlights the adult patient's difficulty in integrating adolescent realities with childhood fantasy solutions to preoedipal and oedipal conflicts. We conclude that no one phase has preeminence over others, that earlier is not necessarily more important, and that there cannot be pure recapitulation, revival, or "reanimation" (Freud, 1925) of the past in the present. However, knowledge of the transformations appropriate to each phase in the past gives us additional access to the determinants and functions of the patient's pathology in the present, increases the specificity of genetic interpretation, and gives both patient and analyst greater conviction about the accuracy of the essential analytic work of reconstruction.

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