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Atkeson, P.G. (2003). Analysis Of The Under-Five Child. Edited by Robert L. Tyson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001, xv + 300 pp., $40.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(4):1411-1415.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(4):1411-1415

Analysis Of The Under-Five Child. Edited by Robert L. Tyson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001, xv + 300 pp., $40.00.

Review by:
Paula G. Atkeson

It is not only the parents of an under-five child who respond with disbelief when psychoanalysis is recommended for their child, asking how their young child could be so disturbed as to need so much treatment for so long; child analysts themselves may be hesitant to make the recommendation for analysis, hoping that a less intensive approach will be sufficient. Many child analysts today have limited analytic experience with prelatency children, and other mental health professionals generally have had little exposure to the benefits of psychoanalytic treatment for the very young.

Robert L. Tyson, the editor of Analysis of the Under-Five Child, sets forth in his introduction the major historical, conceptual, and educational factors that have hindered a wider acceptance of psychoanalysis for those young children whose difficulties make this the treatment of choice. Citing the pleasures of analytic work with prelatency children—which include immersion in early developmental processes as well as frequent favorable outcomes that may be accomplished more rapidly than at later ages—Tyson hopes that this volume will contribute to establishing the years before five as “the golden age for a psychoanalysis” (p. xv).

Analysis of the Under-Five Child masterfully fulfills this goal. The heart of the book is the detailed presentation of eight beautifully described clinical cases of children who began their analyses at ages ranging from two years and nine months to four and a half years old. These cases convincingly demonstrate the unique contributions of the psychoanalytic process to the developmental progress of each young patient. Readers will appreciate the clinical skill, conceptual rigor, and analytic care with which the treatments are conducted, as well as the analysts' attention to the uniqueness of each child. Formal discussions of several of the cases expand theoretical and clinical facets of the work, and conceptual perspectives are provided in two final discussions focusing on psychoanalysis and development, and psychoanalytic technique with the young child.

The cases and discussions presented in this volume were gathered in preparation for a program held at the 1988 Annual Meeting of the Association for Child Psychoanalysis in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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