What about the transference? Technical issues in the treatment of children who cannot symbolize

Rhode, Maria (2011) What about the transference? Technical issues in the treatment of children who cannot symbolize. In: Technique in child and adolescent analysis. Karnac, London, pp. 61-74. ISBN 9781855757158 Full text available

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Throughout the history of psychoanalysis, the question as to whether any given group of patients could benefit by it has centred on the nature of the transference that those patients developed and on the need for technical modifications. These debates have proved fruitful for theories of mental structure as well as for theories of technique. Child analysis was perhaps the most important early example of the widened scope of psychoanalysis, along with the treatment of psychotic patients. Work with children has of course itself been greatly extended in the past 30 years, so that the "normal neurotic" child hardly figures in our practice, certainly not in the public sector. Instead, we see traumatized, abused and refugee children, children in foster care, children on the oncology ward, psychotic or borderline children, or those with autism or with serious developmental delay and learning impairment. All these children tend to be overwhelmed by primitive anxieties concerning physical and psychic survival. Because of this, they resort to extreme measures to protect themselves, and they may experience a therapeutic approach as an additional threat. My aim in this chapter is to consider a number of technical issues that arise in work with children whose capacity for symbolization is impaired, for whatever reason. This impairment obviously affects their ability to play, as well as their capacity to speak and to make use of spoken interpretations. It also has important implications for the handling of the transference. The two groups of children with impaired symbolic capacity on whom I wish to focus are children on the autistic spectrum and children whose behaviour suggests borderline psychosis. I would like to highlight two main contrasts between these two groups, and to suggest that they have important implications for technique.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Translated by Harriett Hasenclever
Subjects: Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychiatry
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/491

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