Affiliation: Vienna Circle for Psychoanalysis and Self Psychology, Vienna, Austria.
Psychoanalytic understanding of normal adolescent development can contribute to our understanding of the psychoanalytic processes unfolding in adult treatment. Empathic understanding of transferences (and countertransferences) and other phenomena hitherto diagnosed as typically “borderline” is thereby facilitated. A brief review of reports specific to the developmental phase of adolescence precedes a clinical case example. The analytic process which recognizes developmental tasks is juxtaposed with descriptions of phenomena otherwise regarded as typical of adolescence. These “adolescent” developmental tasks or challenges can be seen as part and parcel of the therapeutic process in general if it is conceptualized and understood as a developmental process. Attention to those developmental steps which are typical of adolescence can inform analysts about some specific developmental challenges encountered also in the treatment of adults.