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Sarnoff, C.A. (1995). Sarnoff Responds To Dowling's Review. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:309-310.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:309-310

Sarnoff Responds To Dowling's Review

Charles A. Sarnoff, M.D.

April 4, 1994

In his review of my Psychotherapeutic Strategies in Late Latency-Early Adolescence (JAPA 42:1), C. Scott Dowling incorrectly refers to the book as a sequel to my Latency(Sarnoff, 1976). It is in fact the second of a two-volume set, the first volume of which is titled Psychotherapeutic Strategies during the Latency Years(Sarnoff, 1987a).

The emphasis on cognition and cognitive development in these books is not meant to suggest a deemphasis of interpretation and work with fantasy in therapy with children. Rather it adds a dimension to therapy by underlining the often forgotten truism that children are not adults and that retarded cognition can be the source of pathology.

The “jarring and dismal” description of an adolescent attitude, attributed to me in the review, will be found, upon inspection of my words (Sarnoff, 1987b), to be a reference to an awareness found in those on “the threshold of middle age” (p. 260); in no way or context in my book is the description applied to teenagers.

The phrase “a breathtaking instance of undocumented self-assurance” refers to my conclusion that psychoanalytic symbols become available at 26 months at the earliest. This conclusion, in the book in question (Sarnoff, 1987b), is preceded by a description of steps in development on the way to the potential for fully operative psychoanalytic symbols. The appearance of such symbols must wait upon the occurrence of precursors. This conclusion is not undocumented. In my 1970 paper “Symbols and Symptoms: Phytophobia in a Two-year-old Girl” a full documentation of my extended search for the timing of the first psychoanalytic symbol is described. In this regard see also Piaget (1945pp. 177ff.).


Piaget, J. (1945). Play, Dreams, and Imitation in Childhood. New York: Dutton.

Sarnoff, C.A. (1970). Symbols and symptoms: phytophobia in a two-year-old girl.Psychoanal. Q., 39:550-562. [→]

Sarnoff, C.A.( 1976). Latency. New York: Aronson.

Sarnoff, C.A.( 1987a). Psychotherapeutic Strategies: The Latency Years. Northvale, NJ: Aronson.

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