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Strean, H.S. (1979). Some Reflections on Therapeutic Work with the College Dropout. Psychoanal. Rev., 66(2):201-214.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Review, 66(2):201-214

Some Reflections on Therapeutic Work with the College Dropout

Herbert S. Strean, D.S.W.

For more than a decade a plethora of literature has appeared which has attempted to unravel some of the psychosocial determinants that induce an intellectually capable student to drop out of college. Sociological explanations from scholars like Keniston7 have referred to the covert rejection of society by the dropout, and Reisman11 has used the term “inner emigration” when describing him. “Inner emigration” is a term broad enough to include not only those young people who consciously absent themselves from what they see as the “American way of life,” but those who remain inwardly silent, apathetic, loud, and uncommitted, even while outwardly going through the motions of participation.

Other sociological attempts to explain the dropout phenomenon have alluded to the advances of industrialization. Industrialization, it has been contended, contributes to making the adult realm so unappealing to the young person that he resists entering it. College, it has been alleged, provokes a “cultural discontinuity” for the young person, and he feels alienated from his environment.14 This appears to be particularly true for Blacks and members of other minorities.11

The myriad sociological analyses on the college dropout which have consisted of hypotheses that range from affluence to unemployment, political apathy to incipient revolution, peer group over-stimulation to insufficient stimulation by the group2 are matched by hypotheses of clinical investigators who have focused their attention on the dropout's psychodynamics.

Difficulties in adapting to college life have been attributed to faulty resolution of oral, anal, and phallic-Oedipal conflicts.

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