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Silverman, M.A. Rees, K. Neubauer, P.B. (1975). On a Central Psychic Constellation. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:127-156.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:127-156

On a Central Psychic Constellation

Martin A. Silverman, M.D., Katherine Rees and Peter B. Neubauer, M.D.


In this report we called attention to a central psychic constellation which is observable by the age of 3 or 3½ and which appears to play an important role as a codeterminant of the form and early outcome of the struggles and conflicts of prelatency and latency. Our findings stem from a longitudinal study of the developmental process in which data emerging from regular observations and interviews have been correlated wherever possible with therapeutic insights.

We attempted to demonstrate that the central constellation arises out of the coordination during the first three years of life of certain key, preoedipal, developmental variables into a psychic organization possessing sufficient cohesion and stability to maintain a significant impact upon the course of further development. Clinical material was adduced to illustrate the constellation and its components. We described certain variables that are particularly significant in the formation of this constellation.

We considered some of the clinical and theoretical implications of our findings. Psychoanalytic investigators have been attempting to integrate the increasingly vast body of data about the preoedipal period with the assumptions concerning the central role of the oedipus complex in human psychic functioning. We hope that our work, which focuses upon the transition between the preoedipal and oedipal periods, will facilitate the successful completion of this complex and difficult task.

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