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Dowling, S. (1994). Psychotherapeutic Strategies in Late Latency Through Early Adolescence: By Charles A. Sarnoff. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1987, xxiii + 275 pp., $30.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:243-247.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:243-247

Psychotherapeutic Strategies in Late Latency Through Early Adolescence: By Charles A. Sarnoff. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1987, xxiii + 275 pp., $30.00.

Review by:
Scott Dowling, M.D.

This extension of Sarnoff's earlier volume, Latency, has many points of interest, but it can also be puzzling as in this jarring, dismal description of adolescents entering adult life: "They now join the shuffling multitude in the long march to eternity" (p. 260). It is not the only occasion in this book, quite unlike Latency, on which language takes unusual twists.

The casual reader would find the book easy to dismiss long before he reaches the sentence quoted above. The foremost reason is that the theoretical position taken by Sarnoff is uniquely his own and therefore full of unfamiliar ideas framed in unfamiliar terms; furthermore, even familiar ideas often appear in the form of new and unfamiliar terms, an irritant that can easily provoke dismissal. He is also dogmatic; there is little or no discussion of other points of view in the book; everything is presented in the form of a conclusion, usually with no confirming references. There is no mention (or reference) to Peter Blos's volume on the young adolescent, or to Marjorie Harley, and only passing reference to Anna Freud. Moses Laufer's seminal work is mentioned, but has scant place in the formulations. The problem is compounded by the fact that the text is meant for beginners as well as more accomplished psychotherapists; it is wrong that the complexity and variety of ideas about work with young adolescents is not presented to those beginning a career in the field.

That said, I think there is good reason for those interested in work with young adolescents to read the book—with a discriminating eye. Sarnoff is an accomplished therapist; eccentricities can easily be ignored if wisdom follows.

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