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Stensson, J. (2014). Bringing up baby: The psychoanalytic infant comes of age. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 23(4):253-254.

(2014). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 23(4):253-254


Bringing up baby: The psychoanalytic infant comes of age

Jan Stensson

Dianna T. Kenny is a professor of psychology at the University of Sydney and a member of the Australian and American Psychological Societies. Her specialties are developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology. She serves as research and education officer on the national executive and the psychoanalytically informed interest group of the Australian Psychological Society.

Kenny has succeeded here in writing an intriguing treatise on child development from a mainly psychoanalytic perspective. She covers the whole history from Freud until the focus on relational phenomena in today's psychodynamic theory, and concludes by discussing findings in neuroscience. She relates pertinent aspects of psychoanalytic theories in a clear and respectful way, but this does not prevent her putting forward an uncompromising critique of issues that she finds to be mistaken. The result is vital and stimulating reading.

One example is her discussion of the history of Little Hans. Beginning with excerpts from Freud's story, she continues with an attachment theory account, a learning theory version, and finally a retrospective historical account based on Kurt Eissler's interviews with Hans and his father in 1952. Kenny unveils in a pedagogic way how Freud went seriously astray when he let preconceived theoretical speculations be his compass. In this way, he discarded observations that would have led him to a more adequate understanding of Hans' problems and to a more fruitful theoretic construct than the Oedipus complex.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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