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Galatzer-Levy, R.M. (2014). A Nonlinear Lens on Berta Bornstein's “Frankie”. Psychoanal. St. Child, 68:177-190.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 68:177-190

A Nonlinear Lens on Berta Bornstein's “Frankie”

Robert M. Galatzer-Levy, M.D.

This reading of Berta Bornstein's case of “Frankie” half a century after its publication focuses on the knowing attitude that pervades her description of child analysis and child development, and this attitude is used to explain interventions that appear harsh and anti-analytic to today's reader. Using concepts from nonlinear dynamic systems theory and, particularly, network theory help to both understand what is troubling in the case description and how these problematic features came to be part of the case description. The mistaken view that development is linear leads to attempts to get development “on track” and a view that the goal of analysis is well-defined psychological maturity, as opposed to the ongoing freedom to explore the psychological world in new and creative ways. Bornstein's authoritative style was not only coercive of her young patient but also of the reader who is invited to uncritically agree with her formulations. It is suggested that the appeal of this way of writing is best understood in the broad historical context within which the work with Frankie was undertaken.

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