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Nahum, J.P. (1994). New Theoretical Vistas in Psychoanalysis: Louis Sander's Theory of Early Development. Psychoanal. Psychol., 11(1):1-19.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(1):1-19

New Theoretical Vistas in Psychoanalysis: Louis Sander's Theory of Early Development

Jeremy P. Nahum, M.D.

As Bowlby (1981) said some 10 years ago, “Although psychoanalysis is avowedly a developmental discipline, it is nowhere weaker, I believe, than in its concepts of development” (p. 243). Theories of development based on reconstructions from adult analyses have inherent scientific limitations, as was recognized by Hartmann (1985) and others. They, like Freud, hoped to see psychoanalysis realize the goal of becoming a general psychology. The developmental theories of Freud (1905), Kohut (1972, 1977), and others focused on a clinical issue that they came to feel was central in their work with adults. Development was then framed from the particular vantage point of that issue, and an infant was assumed or created to substantiate that point of view. Moreover, as a particular theorist brought a particular issue to center focus, it came to be assumed that the issue was itself central. Mahler and her colleagues (1975) began with the schematic developmental theory of ego psychology with libido theory and then attempted to frame developmental observations within the lens of this point of view, albeit putting a greater emphasis on object relations than on instinctual development. Stern (1985), with his encyclopedic study of infant capabilities, laid to rest for most observers (including Mahler) any hope of maintaining a notion of an undifferentiated infant symbiotically connected to mother, “hatching” through a separationindividuation process. Moreover, Mahler's view of normal developmental phases (e.g.,

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