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Abrams, S. (1986). Disposition and the Environment. Psychoanal. St. Child, 41:41-60.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 41:41-60

Psychoanalytic Theory

Disposition and the Environment

Samuel Abrams, M.D.


I have tried to describe the growth of two girls, Amy and Beth, identical twins reared apart, to highlight some of the methodological and conceptual problems encountered in the course of studying them. I have proposed a metapsychological outline of the environment, extended the view of disposition as it is ordinarily understood, described a new disease entity, and suggested that there may be some clinical applications of the maturational aspect of the developmental process.

Nature can be differentiated into many discrete components, partly an expression of inherent blueprint, partly determined by congenital factors. Some of the components of nature are evident almost at once; others do not assert themselves until later, perhaps much later. Nurture includes the animate and inanimate, the structured and the random, stimuli that are mere excitations and those that are ripe with meaning. Nature and nurture, disposition and the environment, are potentials waiting to be realized. Each exacts a continuing influence upon the other, transforming potential into shape and substance. And, while the concept of a complementary series is a most useful one, there is still much that can be learned when attention is drawn to the polar extremes.

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