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Sidoli, M. (1991). Dowling, S. (Ed.). The Significance of Infant Observational Research for Clinical Work with Children, Adolescents and Adults. Madison. International Universities Press, 1989. Pp. xvi + 257. $32.50.. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(4):539-540.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(4):539-540

Dowling, S. (Ed.). The Significance of Infant Observational Research for Clinical Work with Children, Adolescents and Adults. Madison. International Universities Press, 1989. Pp. xvi + 257. $32.50.

Review by:
M. Sidoli

This book consists of a collection of papers presented at the Fifth Workshop sponsored by the American Association for Mental Professionals. It contains contributions by some of the best-known American psychoanalysts, and is an inside review of important observations pertinent to psychoanalytic and psychodynamic thinking and theory, made, however, in settings other than the clinical psychoanalytic situation, which lead to a more accurate model of psychological development in infancy and childhood, and which have sparked intense new interest in developmental theory. It helps to differentiate between childhood and infancy as understood from work in the consulting room with adult patients and childhood and infancy as directly observed. These new findings have had a great impact in clinical understanding of adult mental life.

The present volume contains papers by child and adult psychoanalysts representing different theoretical and clinical positions. It opens with a detailed historical perspective by Phyllis Tyson, about the development of the two divergent mainstreams of thought among American clinicians and infant researchers. Interestingly enough, apart from some brief references to the work of Melanie Klein, nothing is said about the long-standing work in psychodynamic infant observations carried out in London by Tavistock-trained child psychotherapists or other London groups. Esther Bick is not mentioned at all. The overall emphasis is in supporting psychodynamic-orientated infant observation, even though its validity cannot be demonstrated with statistical data as in the case of infant observation research which has been, and still is, popular in America in the academic world. The authors, without disregarding the value of quantitative research, advocate the necessity of psychodynamic observation, qualitative in essence, for clinical work with children and adults, and support their views with examples of clinical cases.

Jack Novick presents a case report involving a problem in adolescence and points out how many infantile elements are present in a young person's psychological makeup.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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