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Strean, H.S. (1974-75). Clinical Studies in Childhood Psychoses. S. A. Szurek and I. N. Berlin (Eds.). New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1973. xix + 780 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(4):649-650.

(1974-75). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(4):649-650

Clinical Studies in Childhood Psychoses. S. A. Szurek and I. N. Berlin (Eds.). New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1973. xix + 780 pp.

Review by:
Herbert S. Strean

This book reflects twenty-five years of laborious efforts in the treatment of the psychotic child and his parents and is probably the most comprehensive text that has been written on childhood psychoses. It weaves many facets of the diagnostic and treatment processes (e.g., treatment procedures, goals, and techniques) into a very readable volume. In addition to the chapters on the etiology of childhood psychoses, the authors present many valuable case vignettes which expose the child's fantasies, his use of play, and his complex relationships to parents, teachers, and the therapist. They also include bold and frank discussions of countertransference problems and failures as well as successes.

Viewing childhood psychoses as a bio-psycho-social phenomenon, the editors present several chapters on the role of the parents in the child's illness, without “blaming” them. They see “parental blame” as an obstacle in psychotherapeutic work with schizophrenic children and their families and offer examples which clearly prove their contention.

The thirty-three papers in the book by Szurek, Berlin, and their associates at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in California not only illuminate and enrich the reader's diagnostic understanding and treatment “know-how” of the schizophrenic child and his family, but show the importance of teamwork in the therapeutic process. Social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists are all collaborators in this volume and explicate their roles in the diagnostic and treatment collaboration at Langley Porter.

The book is divided into six sections: an introductory section includes descriptions of Mahler's “symbiotic schizophrenia” and Kanner's “autistic child”; a comprehensive historical review of childhood psychoses reveals the difficult incremental steps that were necessary in achieving some understanding of childhood psychoses; current clinical issues such as parental blame and depressive reactions of childhood are discussed, and some examples of techniques in treatment are presented.

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