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The place of psychodynamic theory in developmental psychopathology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2000

PETER FONAGY
Affiliation:
University College London
MARY TARGET
Affiliation:
University College London

Abstract

Psychoanalysis ushered in this century. Will its influence on developmental psychopathology end in the next? The paper explores some critical obstacles in the way of psychodynamic research, including the fragmentation of psychoanalytic theory, the relative independence of theory from its clinical and empirical base, the predominance of inductive scientific logic, the polymorphous use of terms, the privacy of clinical data, the dominance of the reconstructionist stance, and the isolation of psychoanalysis from psychology and neurobiology. Notwithstanding these limitations, core psychoanalytic precepts are not only consistent with some of the most important advances of the last decade but may also be helpful in elaborating these new discoveries in the next century. Psychoanalysis is centered on the notion that complex, conflicting, unconscious representations of mental states constitute a key facet of normal and abnormal development. This notion retains its power, and deserves a prominent position among the major frames of reference to guide developmental science in the next century.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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