Affiliation: Kettenhofweg 62, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Since Sigmund Freud introduced his revolutionary ideas in the early 20th century, many other theorists have made significant contributions to psychoanalytic theory, sometimes extending, sometimes challenging, the views of each other. Major contributions have come from developmental psychologists, empirical researchers, feminist psychoanalysts, self-psychologists, and others, each of whom has sought better explanations for normal and pathological psychological functioning than were currently available. As a result, we have arrived at a point in psychoanalytic thinking at which there are multiple explanatory models for mental phenomena, each of which offers a different window into the psyche. Rather than see these as competing, incompatible models, among which one must choose, it is more useful to view them as each offering crucial insights into development and functioning. This paper discusses the evolution of psychoanalytic thinking in terms of its relevance to adolescent development and psychopathology, and points out the strengths and weaknesses of each of the major views for understanding adolescents.