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Kestenberg, J.S. (1977). Psychoanalytic Observation of Children. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 4:393-407.

(1977). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 4:393-407

Psychoanalytic Observation of Children

Judith S. Kestenberg

All psychoanalysts are concerned with the genetic point of view; all expect a meaningful biography to emerge during a successful analysis. Only some feel the need to analyse children or observe them before they become analysable. The advisability of teaching infant observation has been discussed for some time (A. Freud, 1958). A model observation curriculum has been introduced in English training centres (W. E. Freud, 1975). In some institutes child analysis was recommended as part of training for all candidates. An extensive discussion about the 'Contribution of Child Analysis to the Training in Adult Analysis' was conducted at the 6th Pre-Congress Conference on Training of the I.P.A. (Wallerstein, 1976). Differences of opinion are many, with some claiming that child analysis or observation will make better adult analysts and others wondering whether working outside the scope of a typical transference neurosis would not bring too many parameters into the daily work of adult analysis. Working with borderline patients (Kernberg, 1968) or narcissistic neuroses (Kohut, 1971), some analysts reconstruct material from very early infancy without feeling the need to witness these disturbances in statu nascendi.

The primary focus of this presentation is the role of psychoanalytic child observation as a psychoanalytic tool. From the many data available I shall select a few which are suitable to support the thesis that adult analysis, child analysis and child observation are three interdependent channels of psychoanalytic research and therapy.

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