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Carapellese, C. (2007). Discussion of Neil Altman's Paper “The Children of the Children of the Sixties”. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 6(1):24-29.

(2007). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 6(1):24-29

Discussion of Neil Altman's Paper “The Children of the Children of the Sixties”

Carlo Carapellese, MD


I WISH TO THANK NEIL ALTMAN WARMLY FOR THE PAPER HE HAS presented at this conference, and tell him that, as I read it, I sensed his great generosity. Indeed, he has provided plenty of material for us to work with, though in my discussion I will be able to address only a few points. I shall focus my discussion on the adolescent–parent relationship, which is also the central topic of his contribution. This text summarizes the main points of my discussion of his fine paper.

In his reflections on the relationship between parents and adolescents, Altman suggests (and I completely agree with him) that such a relationship must be contextualized. According to his point of view, adolescence, and indeed each individual adolescent, can be understood only if we analyze the specific intersubjective and cultural contexts.

Adolescence is a process that depends on the cultural context; it is first and foremost a fluent and protean developmental process that challenges any attempt on our part to categorize it.

By underscoring the difference in how adults and their adolescent children see and live in the world, Altman helps us to understand what I consider to be the most important contribution that psychotherapy with adolescents can give to psychotherapy in general: It is not possible to comprehend phenomena that arise within the intersubjective field of the therapeutic relationship without resorting to the process that Altman reminds us of and that Gadamer defined as a “fusion of horizons.”


[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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