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Peltz, M.L. (1991). The Significance of Infant Observational Research for Clinical Work with Children, Adolescents, and Adults. Edited by Scott Dowling and Arnold Rothstein. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. 1989. Pp. 257.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 18:106-108.

(1991). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 18:106-108

The Significance of Infant Observational Research for Clinical Work with Children, Adolescents, and Adults. Edited by Scott Dowling and Arnold Rothstein. Madison, CT: International Universities Press. 1989. Pp. 257.

Review by:
Morris L. Peltz

Dowling, co-editor of this volume, notes in the 'Epilogue':

the infant is now recognized as an active, more organized and organizing, more perceptually acute and discriminating, and motorically complex creature than neurologists or child development specialists, including psychoanalysts had previously believed. It has been firmly established that the infant is equipped with complex, adaptive, perceptual and behavioral capabilities which help to assure the interest and involvement of caretakers (p. 216).

The contributors to this anthology were asked the following question: What relevance, if any, does this new view of the infant have for your clinical work? The responses of the fourteen authors (most of which were originally given at a symposium for mental health professionals) range widely. Their replies are inevitably anchored in their theoretical commitments, their faith in these convictions, and the evidential requirements for sustaining these persuasions.

Central to this debate is one's theory about the fundamental nature in which development proceeds. Does development proceed continuously or discontinuously?

Advocates of a continuous view of development, although acknowledging increasing complexity, believe that antecedent phases retain discrete and discernible representations across time. An illustration of this theory is the conception of psychosexual development with its sequential oral, anal, phallic stages which are still clearly recognizable in adult sexual fantasy and behaviour.

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