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Harley, M. (1970). On Some Problems of Technique in the Analysis of Early Adolescents. Psychoanal. St. Child, 25:99-121.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 25:99-121

Clinical Contributions

On Some Problems of Technique in the Analysis of Early Adolescents

Marjorie Harley, Ph.D.

The aim of this paper is to discuss a few of the technical difficulties which have cumbered my way in the analyses of early adolescents. First, however, I shall briefly review, as I see them, some of the metapsychological aspects of the subphase, early adolescence. Since the views of child analysts on the distinction between preadolescence and adolescence are somewhat diversified, such an introduction may be a necessary prelude to the clinical material which I shall include in my discussion of technique.

I have though it somewhat misleading to characterize preadolescence by the quantitative changes in the drives in contradistinction to the qualitative changes which occur in early adolescence. It is, of course, incontestable that in preadolescence there is an indiscriminate instinctual arousal from all developmental levels (A. Freud, 1936); and it is equally incontestable that in early adolescence the biological processes of puberty work toward a qualitative shift in drive organization. But these processes also further augment the quantitative factor, and it is this quantitative factor that largely accounts for the now relative weakness of the ego vis-à-vis the drives. In addition, it is the quantitative as well as the qualitative factor which results in the recathexis of the oedipal strivings with a renewed vigor. As these strivings press toward the surface, the concomitant conflicts may constitute a potentially powerful impediment to the ego's acceptance of genitality and hence a potentially disturbing influence on "the later development of the ego after puberty" (Freud, 1938p. 191).

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