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Schechter, M. Herbstman, B. Ronningstam, E. Goldblatt, M.J. (2018). Emerging Adults, Identity Development, and Suicidality: Implications for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. St. Child, 71:20-39.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 71:20-39

Emerging Adults, Identity Development, and Suicidality: Implications for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Mark Schechter, M.D., Benjamin Herbstman, M.D., Elsa Ronningstam, Ph.D. and Mark J. Goldblatt, M.D.

Emerging adulthood (approximately ages eighteen to twenty-nine) has been identified as the transitional age between adolescence and young adulthood. People in this phase of life face specific issues and pressures in developing and consolidating various aspects of identity. The process of coming to experience oneself as a coherent, whole person, and learning about one’s own attributes, capacities, and potential for growth can be fraught and vulnerable to developmental disruption. Difficulties with identity development and consolidation can lead to experiences of disconnection, aloneness, despair, and harsh self-attack that heighten vulnerability to suicide. The psychotherapeutic relationship can help the patient achieve a degree of self-recognition that might not otherwise have been possible, decreasing vulnerability to suicidal despair and opening up the potential for ongoing development and growth. Together, patient and therapist have the opportunity to more fully recognize aspects of the emerging adult’s identity that are present but have not been fully realized, and also to renegotiate other aspects of identity that are based on old, maladaptive “scripts.” We present clinical material to illustrate how struggles with identity relate to suicidality, and to highlight the challenges and opportunities of psychodynamic work.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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