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Seligman, S. (1996). Toddlers And Their Mothers. A Study In Early Personality Development. By Erna Furman. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1992. 414 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:409-414.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:409-414

Toddlers And Their Mothers. A Study In Early Personality Development. By Erna Furman. Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc., 1992. 414 pp.

Review by:
Stephen Seligman

This volume reports the experiences and findings of a model psychoanalytic intervention-research program, the Hanna Perkins Mother-Toddler Group. Presenting a vivid and empathic observational picture of the world of toddlers, it is both conceptually elaborate and clinically precise. It demonstrates the ongoing vitality of the analytic tradition of observational research into early development. For the general reader, the book can serve as a valuable guide to the developmental issues of toddlerhood as they persist in subsequent development; for those working directly with young children, its detailed and pragmatic orientation will provide specific guidance.

Unlike many volumes that gloss over the clinical core that underlies their findings, Toddlers and Their Mothers offers a thorough description of the everyday workings of the Toddler Group. The program is a project of Hanna Perkins School, affiliated with the Cleveland Center for Research in Child Development. Started in 1985 by Erna Furman and her colleagues, it includes six toddlers, who, along with their mothers, attend for one to two years. The group meets twice weekly for one and a half hours, and two teachers, Furman and Phyllis Wapnick, are present at all times; other clinician-educators attend in carefully coordinated ways. Although the toddlers' difficulties range widely in severity and nature, the author reports that they are not essentially different from any group of “normal” toddlers.

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