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Diatkine, R. Simon, J. (1974). Some Reflections on Interpretation in Psychoanalysis of Children. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:267-276.

(1974). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1:267-276

Some Reflections on Interpretation in Psychoanalysis of Children

R. Diatkine and J. Simon

In spite of great conceptual differences, psychoanalysis of children is practised today in all countries where psychoanalysis can develop freely. However, the theoretical advances which have continued to enrich our discipline oblige us to reformulate two fundamental questions which have been under constant debate for over 50 years: (1) Is psychoanalysis of children possible, in the strict sense of the term? (2) Is psychoanalysis of children necessary or useful?

Today no one would dream of doubting the contribution made by the treatment of children to the general theory of psychoanalysis. The accounts of such treatments have multiplied since the early controversies on this subject. It is also acknowledged that observation of children has been radically transformed, thanks to the utilization of psychoanalytic concepts by analysts. Direct observation has also contributed in shaping certain of these concepts, as, for example, Freud's observation of his grandson's game with the spool.

Psychoanalytic theory allows us to understand under what conditions the life experiences of children have a direct influence on the development of their psychic organization. Numerous psychotherapeutic effects can be obtained by employing various techniques of treatment, both individual and institutional. These positive results can be accounted for, as can the harmful effects of multiple aggressive threats to the child, emanating both from the members of his family and from his peer group. The opposition that is assumed to exist between favourable results, which are considered to be positive, educative or therapeutic, and harmful effects presupposes, in fact, a certain normative judgement whose validity is always debatable.

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