Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The

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In 1945 there appeared a new journal, four hundred pages long, titled The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Due to its editors (Anna Freud, Heinz Hartmann, Ernst Kris) and its contributors (such as Edward Glover, Ernst Kris, René Spitz, Phyllis Greenacre, and Rudolph Loewenstein), the journal immediately enjoyed huge success and prestige. Ever since, the journal has appeared regularly every year, always in the same format and always just as thick. More than fifty volumes stretch along the bookshelves of psychoanalytic institutions throughout the world.

Right from the start, its intellectual and political mission was clear. Heinz Hartmann had just immigrated to New York. In London, the disciples of Anna Freud and Melanie Klein were emerging from several years of intense and sometimes violent quarrels. While one could hardly say that Anna Freud's star was fading, that of Melanie Klein was shining ever brighter. But this was in Britain. On the other side of the Atlantic, the situation was different. The United States still appeared as a vast and as yet wide-open field, professionally shapeless and ill-defined. In particular, it still needed an infusion of Klein's new teaching. Hence the value not just of creating an English-language journal, but also of publishing it in New York.

The 1945 volume contained declarations on the part of Hartmann, Anna Freud, and Edward Glover, among others. They stated their thinking in the most trenchant terms: the psychoanalysis of children was a success, and its principles should be based on the later metapsychology of Sigmund Freud or, more precisely, on Freudian metapsychology as interpreted by Hartmann and Anna Freud.

The threat from Klein was staved off by a cunning ploy. In volume 1, Klein was the subject of detailed discussion, and her "deviations" were denounced. After this discussion, there was near silence. In the following years, her name was rarely mentioned. Even in 1952, when she made a brief reappearance in the journal, it was as the author of a mere three-page heavily criticized commentary (7, pp. 51-53) of a paper given by Hartmann at the 1951 congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association. As for Jacques Lacan, his existence was never even recognized during his lifetime (the first article on Lacan, critical but nonetheless well intentioned, appeared in 1993 [48, pp. 115-142]). Despite the international tone of the first volume (which included articles by Marie Bonaparte and Raymond de Saussure), during the following years The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child militantly limited its horizons to the Anglo-Saxon world.

Such doctrinal parameters might have paralyzed original thought, but this was far from the case. On the contrary, the 1950s saw an upsurge of creativity. Anna Freud and Hartmann, in articles exceptional in their quality, consolidated and refined their shared perspective. During the same period, a new line of thinking started to emerge. In 1952 Margaret Mahler published "On Child Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Autistic and Symbiotic Infantile Psychoses" (7, pp. 286-305), which drew a huge response. Then in 1954 came Edith Jacobson's "The Self and the Object World" (9, pp. 75-127). Structural psychology, as the theoretical framework of Anna Freud and Hartmann came to be known, then had to reach a compromise with the new object-relations theory. Ironically, one of the strengths of object-relations theory lay in the sophisticated way in which Klein's key concepts had been reworkedfor instance, the role of so-called primitive defenses during the pre-oedipal period.

At the end of the 1960s and during the 1970s, the wave of object-relations theory continued to develop: case studies were more and more frequently labeled "separation-individuation," "fusion anxiety," "object permanence," and the like. During the 1980s, object-relations theory became more important than structural psychology. Nonetheless, both viewpoints managed to coexist in the review and have continued to do so. Even after her death in 1984, Anna Freud remained a powerful presence. A good example of her unfailing authority is an excellent article by Clifford Yorke, "Anna Freud's Contributions to Knowledge of Child Development," published in 1996 (51, pp. 7-24). In this paper Yorke endeavored to produce the most detailed investigation of all the journal articles written from the perspective of Anna Freud.

One significant result of the increasing space given to "representations of the self and the object" was the rise in importance of the Anglo-Saxon version of parent-infant psychotherapy. Selma Freiberg was the main innovator here, and the journal has continued to support this current (Liebermann and Pawl, 39, pp. 527-548; Seligman, 49, pp. 481-500).

Another subsidiary development emerged with the publication, in 1978, of "Trauma and Affects," by Henry Krystal (33, pp. 81-116). Krystal argued for a more rigorous definition of the concept of trauma and recommended that greater attention be paid to the consequences of this notion for the psychoanalysis of the child. In 1979 and 1984 there appeared two widely-read articles by Lenore Terr: "Children of Chowchilla: A Study of Psychic Trauma (34, pp. 547-623) and "Time and Trauma" (39, pp. 633-665). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child was one of the main journals to grant an important place to the subject of trauma, which later become a major focus of interest in the world of child therapy.

As might have been expected, what remained problematic for the journal was its relation to research on child development. In the first years, a simple solution seemed to suffice. In the first volume (1945), the hope was forcefully expressed that research might become more central. In practice, this intention amounted to almost nothing. For a long while, the sole empirical studies recognized by the journal were those practiced by its own editors and a few key contributors: Anna Freud's diagnostic observations at the Hampstead Clinic, Margaret Mahler's investigations on day nurseries, René Spitz's studies on hospitalization, Ernst Kris's observations at Yale University. In 1959, John Bowlby read a paper before a large audience during a meeting of psychoanalysts in New York. His presentation, "Grief and Mourning in Infancy and Early Childhood," published in the 1960 volume (15, pp.9-52) was vehemently attacked by Anna Freud (15, pp.54-61).

At the end of the 1970s, this state of affairs changed radically. "Outstanding Developmental Progress," a longitudinal study by Bertrand Cramer (who was working in New York at the time) appeared in 1975 (30, pp. 15-48). "Four Early Stages in Development of Mother-Infant Interaction," an important article by T. Berry Brazelton and Heidelise Als on video studies of mothers and infants, was published in 1979 (34, pp. 349-369). Even more revealing, the main specialists in early infancy in the 1990s, such as T. Berry Brazelton, Daniel Stern, and Edward Tronick, began to be cited frequently by various authors in the journal in the 1970s. This tendency, which continued during the 1980s and 1990s, represents a praiseworthy movement toward more openness. Yet the most surprising thing is that investigators seemed to imagine they could assimilate the new discoveries to the existing metapsychology without raising some rather complex questions. One would expect more objections, such as those of Fred Pine, who, in a fine 1992 article, "The Separation-Individuation Concept in Light of Infant Research" (47, pp. 103-116), brought out the existing disagreements between Mahler and Stern.

Despite the reservations one may have on its omissions, The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child has maintained a high level of professionalism. Few journals in the history of psychotherapy have managed as well as this one to retain their influence while remaining lively, dynamic, and provocative in theoretical matters.

George Downing

See also: Eissler-Selke, Ruth; Freud, Anna; Hartmann, Heinz; Kris, Ernst; Kris-Rie, Marianne.

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Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, The

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