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Parens, H. Rose-Itkoff, C. Pearlman, M. Reid, K. Turrini, P. Fallon, T. Singletary, W. Scattergood, E. (2006). Into Our Fourth Decade of Prevention via Parenting Education: Where We Have Been — Where We Are Going. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 3(1):17-38.

(2006). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 3(1):17-38

Into Our Fourth Decade of Prevention via Parenting Education: Where We Have Been — Where We Are Going

Henri Parens, Cecily Rose-Itkoff, Michael Pearlman, Kelly Reid, Patsy Turrini, Theodore Fallon, William Singletary and Elizabeth Scattergood

Child development professionals, psychoanalysts among them, have learned more during the past century about child development, and about what optimizes and what derails it, than was known in the entire preceding history of civilization. As Freud envisioned, and spoke of a number of times for three decades, by bringing what we have learned in the clinical situation and in-depth psychological observational research (Hartmann, 1950) to bear on mental health prevention, psychoanalysts are contributing critically to optimizing the development and mental health of children. We share Freud's view that this is “… so exceedingly important, so rich in hopes for the future, perhaps the most important of all the activities of analysis. What I am thinking of [Freud said] is the application of psychoanalysis to education, to the upbringing of the next generation” (Freud, 1933, p. 146). Our own clinical and research experiences and findings have increasingly compelled us to apply what we have, and to continue to lean toward the prevention of experience-derived emotional disorders in children (Parens, 1993).

Here we want to report the evolving steps we have taken over these past 30+ years, as one application of what we found once in progress led to another and yet another. Foremost, we want to report on how from our long-term direct observational (psychoanalytic-anthropologic) project, our “Early Child Development Program,” we determined to develop parenting-optimizing educational materials as a means of preventing emotional and adaptive problems in children. We found opportunities and evidence to support the fact that we can optimize the work of parents as, day in and day out for years, they try to rear their children in growth-promoting ways.

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