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Sugarman, A. (2003). Dimensions of the Child Analyst's Role as a Developmental Object: Affect Regulation and Limit Setting. Psychoanal. St. Child, 58:189-213.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 58:189-213

Integrating Theory and Clinical Practice

Dimensions of the Child Analyst's Role as a Developmental Object: Affect Regulation and Limit Setting

Alan Sugarman, Ph.D.

This paper will attempt to explain certain dimensions of the child analyst's role as a developmental object in an effort to better clarify the nature of that function as well as demonstrate that it is an important part of most child analyses. A review of the literature reveals a bias toward differentiating this function from that of promoting insight with the belief that these two functions determine different treatment modalities. Therefore, many authors suggest that being a developmental object is necessary only in the treatment of seriously disturbed children and/or those whose familial histories require a departure from a “genuinely” analytic stance. A case of a prelatency boy is presented to demonstrate the child analyst's need to serve as a developmental object in regard to setting limits in order to promote affect regulation. Closer scrutiny of these interventions raises the possibility that they may simply have been transference of defense interpretations at a concrete level commensurate with the child's level of cognitive development. This possibility is highlighted as an area for further study.

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