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Meltzer, D. (1969). The Relation of Aims to Methodology in the Treatment of Children. J. Child Psychother., 2(3):57-61.

(1969). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 2(3):57-61

The Relation of Aims to Methodology in the Treatment of Children

Donald Meltzer

I want to attempt a purely psycho-analytical approach to a question which is not necessarily a psycho-analytical question by-any means. Therefore I am going to start with two dreams from a patient, one dating from the beginning of the last year of his analysis, the other from the end of that year.

In the first dream the patient, a young doctor who was considering applying for analytic training, found himself wading into the sea following a tall man dressed in a sou'wester. In the distance there seemed to be a milk bottle, either floating or partly submerged. As the water became deeper and deeper, the patient felt panic that at any moment he might become unable to touch bottom and would be swept away by the current.

One year later he dreamed that Dr. Ball, who seemed to be the new professor of another department, appeared unexpectedly in an informal visit to the patient's ward. He was immensely pleased but a bit nervous, as Dr. Ball was a man he greatly admired for his integrity, devotion to his patients and clinical experiencebut in a field different from the patient's. The two nurses were a bit annoyed but greeted Dr. Ball with respectthey were middle-aged, not sexually attractive but efficient and friendly.

We have, then, two images (1) patient, man in sou'wester, milk bottle; (2) patient, Dr. Ball, two nurses. Panic in one, pleasure mixed with nervousness in the other. Let us leave them suspended as we turn to the problem of treating children. What is the sociological picture of the context in which the psychological treatment of children takes place.

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