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Dewald, P.A. Kramer, S. (1976). Dialogue on 'The Role of Family Life in Child Development'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 57:403-409.

(1976). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 57:403-409

Dialogue on 'The Role of Family Life in Child Development'

Paul A. Dewald and Selma Kramer

In his introduction the Chairman, Calvin Settlage (San Francisco), hoped the Dialogue would focus on changes in society and culture, as well as changes in psychoanalytic practice and theory. He asked the participants also to consider which elements in psychoanalytic teaching and practice are established well enough to be preserved.

Settlage asked about the effects of change in composition, structure and function of the family; the impact on child development of changes in the roles of the mother and father; and variations in the societal or parental expectations of children and their behaviour. He referred to widening the scope of psychoanalysis to narcissistic and borderline personalities, as well as overt psychosis; and to psychoanalysts' studies of infants and preverbal children through reconstruction in the psychoanalytic situation and by direct observation in a variety of settings. These have led to the broader view of individual child development, of the family and the interactions of the various family members, as well as to a deeper understanding of adult developmental phases, particularly parenthood.

The first paper was given by Maurice Friend (this issue) and discussion was opened by Albert J. Solnit (New Haven). Pointing to the potential pitfall of a psychoanalyst becoming 'an environmentalist', the analyst must nevertheless be aware that the environment is constantly changing and that the changing social structure becomes reflected in the individual child through changing structures in the psyche.

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