Questioning the Child’s Analyst: What Do You Bring to Jungian Thought?

Brigitte Allain-Dupré
Paris, France
Société Française de Psychologie Analytique

Best-Laid Plans

When I sat down to write the outline of this paper, I planned to give you a brilliant demonstration of how the many Jungians working in the field of child and adolescent therapy have imprinted the movement as a whole, and, in particular, the theoretical and clinical writings published by analysts who work with adults.

Rather than argue how well adapted or even effective Jungian tools are for work with children – the case has already been made, I believe – my idea was to show that when these Jungian tools are implemented and developed by child therapists, they are enriched and transformed, emerging with the power to shed new light on the field of thought in general, and, in particular, on theoretical work on clinical practice with adult patients.

In other words, I was certain that I would find compelling evidence of the gradual but profound evolution of the ideas which implicitly develops within a community of thinkers. I wanted to highlight the new ideas blowing in the wind.

Choosing an Observation Point

To observe the “mutation” I predicted, I had mapped out certain landmarks as a framework for my investigation. The first was the date 1983, at the IAAP Congress in Jerusalem that year, when Jungian child therapists were officially recognized. Under the influence of Michael Fordham’s school of thought, the IAAP acknowledged the validity of Jungian child therapy and declared its existence official. Immediately after the congress, Mara Sidoli in London and Gustav Bovensiepen in Berlin gave this recognition life by creating the International Workshop for Jungian Child and Adolescent Therapists, which continues to organize annual encounters. This initiative was always broadly supported by successive IAAP presidencies. It is important to note that there are at least 500 members of the Jungian community from around the world working with children.

However, if one evaluated the impact of this recognition, one would be forced to arrive at the conclusion that it mattered only to those who were directly concerned; i.e., the child therapists themselves. For example, the report of the Jerusalem Congress, published in the Journal of Analytical Psychology, made no mention of it; nor did the French publication of that time, the Cahiers de psychologie analytique. Lastly, the book by Tom Kirsch, The Jungians, is silent on the subject. To judge by the small number of Jungian societies willing to welcome research specific to child therapy, our experience and investigations are not yet accepted by the court as evidence. Even the organization of the program here at this Barcelona Congress attests to the fact: talks on children are the only ones to be consigned to a category based on the age of the patient … as if the subject of the talk were irrelevant outside that category.

The second source I intend to draw upon is the variety of information which enables me to claim to have my finger on the Jungian pulse around the world, well beyond the borders of my ongoing training at the Institut C.G. Jung in Paris, and my work within the French SFPA.

First of all, as editor of the Revue des Revues column in Les Cahiers jungiens de psychanalyse, I am called upon to read the periodical reviews published throughout the Jungian world. Secondly, for over twenty years, I have participated in the International Workshop for Jungian Child and Adolescent Therapists. Thirdly, I am an attentive observer of theoretical and clinical research publications within the Jungian scientific community, especially as concerns the child. My knowledge of what is being printed is supplemented by my assiduous attendance at various IAAP congresses, as well as at other gatherings, which gives me a fairly accurate picture of what constitutes a Jungian identity. Lastly, my inveterate curiosity about the history of psychoanalysis, including the analysis of children, is also of assistance in this examination.

As you see, I am quite interested in the flow of ideas and the history of currents of thought. It is not easy to act as both judge and defendant in this field. Therefore, my point of view today is purely subjective. Nevertheless, at a time when Jungian analysis and psychoanalysis in general is besieged by rival techniques like behaviorism or even the use of pharmaceuticals, it is not irrelevant to reflect upon why it is being changed from inside, who is changing it, and how it is being changed.

The Maternal Preoccupation Wave

I was anticipating writing a lively description of a whirling, centrifugal movement; ideally, the clinical influence and, especially, the metapsychological elaborations necessitated by the nature of child therapy would be clearly detectable in the writing of analysts who work with adults. But I soon realized that this was an illusion. True, an attitude which appeared to be much more open to questions about the psychological aspects of childhood could be found in Jungians of every stripe, but it was probably entirely unrelated to our work as humble Jungian child therapists. The source of this openness was, in fact, what would be called “the great wave of maternal preoccupation” which has washed over psychoanalytic culture in the past twenty-five or thirty years. This was associated with the debate over the validity of theories of the unconscious, as confronted by research on human attachment in the field of ethology, in the wake of findings by Daniel Stern1 and his colleagues. Bowlby also comes to mind.

1 Stern, D., The interpersonal world of the infant. A view from psychoanalysis and developmental psychology., New York, Basic Books, 1985.

Who Are They?

In order to measure how much influence these child therapists have on the course of Jungian thought, if they have any at all, it is probably important to determine who they are and, especially, to describe the theoretical hypotheses on which they work. Contrary to popular belief, Jungian child therapists are not all Fordhamians or sandplayists. Although these two approaches are generally the best known, and are thoroughly described in Jungian literature on the child, they are not necessarily the most widespread.

Theoretical Presumptions: Under Construction (Still)

We all know that Jung did not share Freud’s interest in modelizing the psychological development of the child, in describing the internal and external psychic confrontations which conduct him to symbolic life, the consciousness that he is a unique, singular, and sexual being, or how he comes to differentiate between the ego and the unconscious. Jung approached these questions with archetypal alchemical metaphors inspired by his adult patients. The concepts of childhood, the archaic, and the infantile usually overlap. His research on the child dating from the time of his friendship with Freud is interesting, of course; but it was never continued in his later work, on the self, for example, the birth of symbolic life, and the individuation process. We must fill the gap ourselves.

From the point of view of the history and evolution of Jungian thought over the past twenty-five years, one might say that child therapists have appropriated the Jungian tool for their work without necessarily adopting Fordham and Neumann as well, although they are quite familiar with them. Child therapy rotates around constitutive axes like the energetic boost therapy provides for psychic growth, the natural dialectic movement which occurs between the archetypal forces of the unconscious and the ego’s need to emerge with the support of the transference relationship. In this, it pursues the same goals as adult therapy. And yet, child practice continues to be perceived as something special and different, because it never developed within the thought of either Jung himself or the first concentric circle of his followers. Even today, some Jungians consign it to the hedges of experience.

Centered on Individuation

I don’t have time to develop the subject at length, but if I were to sum up our practice to you, I would describe it by saying that the individuation process, its effects and avatars are at the center of it. When Jung wrote1, for example, that: “Before individuation can be taken as a goal, the educational aim of adaptation to the necessary minimum of collective norm must first be attained,” he seems to have been unaware of the fertility of his concept of individuation, the way we understand it today. Indeed, to our minds, the individuation process is hindered rather than helped by adaptation to social norms. And this process begins at the infant’s birth.

Of course, Jung’s vision of childhood was quite different from ours today, due to a variety of factors: in his time, fewer newborns survived; also, family customs and mores have changed radically. As a result, we can interpret “… the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology”2 as being fully meaningful as soon as the child is born. Studies in human ethology on attachment have revealed another aspect of the individuation process: the need for another in order to become human. This can be opposed to the unilateral Freudian vision of the infantile as obeying only physiological and sexual drives.

These findings were probably accepted more readily by the Jungian analytical community than by classical analysts. Jung taught us to recognize the innate element in a behavior pattern and to think of development in terms of process rather than phases. We believe that fantasy life, rather than being rooted in the sex drive, actually arises from the early emergence of an innate sense of self (the emergent core of self) which needs the other in order to be activate. It is the force which sustains the project of identity, including sexual identity. This viewpoint is thus attuned to the Jungian model of the archetypal expectative. Were there any further need to do so, it confirms how up-to-date the Jungian concept of individuation is, insofar as it can be interpreted today within the context of either childhood development or psychotherapeutic practice with children.

1 Jung, C.G., CW 6, Psychological types, trad. H.G. Baynes, Bollingen series, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1974, § 757-8

2 Ibid., §757.

Child Therapists in France

As we have seen, although the Fordhamian model is widespread in the Jungian world in general, France is a bit of an exception. In France, a group of Jungian child therapists had formed even before the landmark 1983 Jerusalem congress I mentioned earlier. This group had developed guidelines for training and procedure based on the writings of people like Denise Lyard1, quite openly inspired by the thinking and writing of Erich Neumann and Geneviève Guy-Gillet2, who, despite her Freudian training, had continually explored the possibilities of Jungian theory. Michael Fordham’s assertion that he was the only Jungian in the world to be interested in children was untrue in France, but he must have been uninformed. Today, as a member of the second generation following the founding fathers and mothers, I would say that the forty French child therapists populate the Jungian position with active research involving both Jungian matters and psychoanalytic studies in general. Indeed, therapeutic work constantly demands that we stay abreast of the latest research in such fields as the neurosciences and cognitivism. Phenomena like medically-assisted procreation, recomposed families, homosexual parenthood, and others, are only a few of the trends which have suddenly arisen in our practice, as they have suddenly arisen in society as a whole.

Being without a master; bound neither to Fordham, Neumann, or Freud, nor, one might add, to Dora Kalff or Esther Bick, although well aware of their writings and able to refer to any of them for help, the French child therapists were forced to evolve their own relationship to Jung’s thought in their theoretical and clinical work. This relationship is characterized by the lack of authority, which is an invaluable aid to creativity, and a multiplicity of openings to other ways of thinking, an approach which, when it meets with success, is the most structuring of psychic experiences.

As we read and probed Jung, we were thus continually induced to fill the gap in what he offered: that is, the discontinuity in his ideas between the world of the archetype and the formation of a personal ego. We drew our own conception of the child unconscious, driven by its own forces, and with effects we associated with our own learning and therapeutic practice. Moreover, the training at Paris’s Institut C.G. Jung has always required that candidates who work with children also be qualified adult analysts. As a result, although on one hand we sometimes had to contend with epistemological difficulties, these differences required that we always refer primarily to clinical experience and thus to transference as the core of our thought, our discussions, and our analyses (and the application of the word transference to child therapy is an invitation to a crowd of people). Moreover, we all had to be bilingual, fluent at once in the language we use for work with children, and the one we use for analysis with adults.

Actually, the process of our own individuation as child therapists was a quest which had to take place in an open territory, where truths are temporary and transitory, the result of an “unknowingness.” Nevertheless, we were demanding as we constructed a therapeutic position that was rigorous, creative, and ethical. This was what made the sometimes bitter confrontations which took place inside the International Workshop over the past twnty years so productive, enabling each to strengthen his or her own identity as a child therapist, and to discover his or her shadow. There was a radical dis-idealization of anything with the slightest hint of dogma.

Are We Representative?

Besides the well-defined theoretical framework of the developmental school, one observes child therapies conducted according to principles which differ greatly from one another, though they cannot be easily categorized according to the usual schools (archetypal, classical, or developmental). This is because work with children inevitably demands consideration of the material, physical, and psychic realities which have surrounded the child since birth, and often long before. The child’s relationship with his mother, a matrix which organizes meaning and is woven into the transference relationship, constantly accompanies the listening of the child therapist.

Transference in Other Theories

Work in, with, and on transference is thus not exclusively related to references to the archetype of symbolic incest as described by Jung. It is enriched by the influence and contributions of psychoanalytic theories which consider the various levels of psychic integration of the bond between the parents, and between mother and child. Child therapists often draw upon Winnicott in addition to Jung, because the formers concepts of borderline facilitates thinking in terms of process, active within the symbolic field of an innate growth dynamic contained in the project of the self. It is important to note that, in France, a Paris- London psychoanalytic axis enabled great psychoanalysts implicitly belonging to our French culture to articulate these questions. I am thinking specifically of Didier Anzieu with his moi peau (skin ego) and André Green’s complexe de la mère morte (dead-mother complex). Doubtless, our partial segregation from the English-speaking world – as you know, English is not our cup of tea – either forced or enabled us to find creative references in our own culture.

The absence of a powerful theoretical imago, in the absence of a master, counterbalanced by the value we grant to theories with which we feel a sense of kinship, even distantly, is a metaphor for the sometimes undifferentiated, sometimes fragmented psychic contents, some of which possess the fascinating energy of strong feeling toned complex dealt with by an individual. As therapists, we have had to work hard on understanding their content and evaluating them within the field of our identity. The thought framework given to us by these theories strongly stimulated the aspects of individuation which could lead our therapist-ego to achieve differentiation from prevailing collective models. In a way, as a community of therapists and as individuals, we have undergone a growth process analogous to that of the child, faced with the task of integrating into his young ego all of the conscious and unconscious components of his personal, familial, and collective story, forcing him to give up his unilateral omnipotence.

Child Therapists As Integrators

This task of integration is facilitated for us in that it is paralleled by the fact that the analyst’s commitment to treating a child is also an interweave of many influences: the parents, external reality, the need for treatment to be brief, the child’s age, and the specific way a child expresses suffering. More than any other, the child therapist is confronted by the work of integrating his identity, in which there is no place for mimetic attitudes or those of the persona!

And even if one might say that the work of child therapy does not fundamentally differ from adult therapy, child psychopathology is nevertheless expressed in different registers. Indeed, the great etiological certainties of the treatment of neurotics are of little or no use when you are faced with a child in whom the question of psychic growth is omnipresent, provoking crises which occur because the project of the self is driving towards individuation, but is not being provided with the nourishment necessary for proper development, i.e., for being embodied by a personal ego.

What of the Risks?

If it is true that the absence of an epistemological framework centered on the child forces us to engage in creation and reconstruction, the process carries its own risks. The construction and integration of a genuine analytical position is a requisite, but the temptation to syncretism, amalgam, fold, or reduced concepts, regardless of their epistemological source, is a distinct possibility. In my opinion, this temptation is probably related to the reluctance of a certain Jungian tradition to indulge in the pleasure of thinking. Hence, defensive cerebrality becomes confused with creative thought. Nadia Neri1, in her book Oltre l’ombra. Donne intorno a Jung, clearly showed how most of the people who pioneered Jungianism (often women) were fascinated by the theories of a master they worshipped. Today, however, insufficient thinking can have serious consequences. Unconscious compensatory mechanisms in the complementary function, i.e., in the feeling function, rob it of its ability to make judgments, and the therapist’s entire personality is liable to slide into an adhesive affectivity, because the potential for the polarity of thought is so weak.

1 Neri, N., Oltre l’ombra. Donne intorno a Jung. Roma, Borla, 1995. Femmes autour de Jung, translated by B. Allain-Dupré and C. Veschambre, Paris, Cahiers jungiens de psychanalyse, 2002.

Transference Risks

The effects of the undifferentiation of the unconscious issues underlying the child-adult relationship can be extremely harmful to the child, who is the first one in danger. The confusion of languages, as Ferenczi wrote, of possession by the effects of a supposedly all- good archetypal great mother, are undeniable risks, to which we are particularly exposed as child therapists. Fascination with the mother image – envy and rivalry – or fascination with the marvelous child, both of which are strongly constellated in our daily activity, invite all sorts of abuse. Even if it is not necessarily sexual, it can be a serious threat!

The Jungian tool gives the transference relationship a central, preponderant role in our work. For the therapist, the risk of unconscious identification with the child victim may lead to the projection onto the mother of a silent accusation which would keep the work from proceeding under the proper ethical conditions. Likewise, the defensive dynamic which is part of the unconscious of the child and often the family, as a current conflict being repeated in the here-andnow of transference, makes it difficult to experience and symbolize the expression of negative transference. This is all the truer in the case of a child. The risque éducatif then rears its head …

The risk that the therapist will be possessed by the fascinating aspects constellated in the work situation with a child is further supported by the many studies of the psychological theories of attachment. Many give the mother-baby relationship an ideal and numinous fantasmatic image centered on the archetype of the marvelous child. Compared to the aridity of Jung’s writings, those of the theoreticians of attachment like B. Cramer1 or T. B. Brazelton2 read like hot, sweet milk!

Moreover, the act of working with very young patients, some of whom are on the verge of representation, or, perhaps, with children whose symbolic ability is severely impaired (psychotics, for example) places the child therapist in direct contact with unconscious contents which, insofar as they cannot be represented, are all the more psychically toxic, especially when the therapist feels emotionally close to his young patient. A serious study of the birth of representability and the role played by the environment is necessary, to avoid going astray: even if the tabula is not rasa, it may not be set with plates and silverware.

Lastly, fantasies of the good, healing mother or father are liable to be quite active in the work situation with children in cases where the therapist’s counter-transference with the child and family lacks sufficient differentiation. The emergence of these healing fantasies is liable to taint the therapeutic field with a repression of the drive aspects active in the child’s individuation project. In that case, in the transference relationship, the child would be contending with the unconscious contents of a neutral, asexual parent, the projection of the archetype of a syzygy, an overwhelming hermaphrodite which would keep the child from developing. At the same time, the therapist, captivated by his fantasy of sexual neutrality, would be blinded to his own seductive and sometimes even perverse strategies towards the child.


I’ve just given you a cursory outline of the issues likely to confront Jungian child therapists. In many respects, they are nearly the same as the ones analysts encounter with adult patients. However, I believe that what makes us different can be pinpointed as a need far greater than that of our colleagues who work with adults for the metapsychological approach Jung called “foundation.” “How can you give a worthy explanation of an edifice from top to bottom, if you start at the top?” he asked, in Problems of modern psychotherapy: “It is preferable to explain it from bottom to top, in a more exact and genetic way, starting with the foundation.”3

1 Cramer B., “La psychiatrie du bébé,” in, R. Kreisler, M. Shappi et M. Soulé, La dynamique du nourrisson, Paris, Editions ESF, 1982.

2 Brazelton T.B., B. Koslowski and M. Main, “The origins of reciprocity: The early mother-infant interaction,” in, L. Lewis and L.A. Rosenblum (Eds.) The effets of the infant on its caregiver, New York, Wiley, 1974.

3 Jung, C.G., “Problèmes de la psychothérapie moderne,” in La guérison psychologique, p 44. CW 16, § 145.

One of the foundations of child therapy is the inalienable bond between the unfolding of the project of the self and the body in which it is taking place. The children we treat are likely to be disturbed in ways that affect vital bodily functions. In addition, they force us to consider the phases of their individual development and its history in relation to a standard set by our own society and culture for the time it should take to mature. Within this canon, deviations from the norm will carry a meaning coherent within our own system of explanation and understanding. Likewise, to evaluate the arrest in development of which their cognitive or emotional disturbances are a sign, these symptoms must be placed within a general metapsychological vision of the psychic development of the child in order to evaluate the type and scope of the damages of a self prevented from supporting the growing ego. Treating these issues demands that we have a metapsychological vision. This vision “constructs its object, and, in a constant dialogue with the clinical experience, articulates the principles, laws and hypotheses which make the observable psychic processes intelligible according to the original diagram authorizing the vision to construct its object.”1 Jung rarely suggests that we think of psychic growth in this way. However, the relationship he establishes here between self-realization and the individuation process enables us to graft the great archetypal movements he describes onto the latest knowledge of child development.

The analysis of transference is the second area in which child therapists part ways from analysts working with adults. Because the child’s situation invariably depends upon his parents, the therapist must constitute a labile identity for himself. In the reality of his affective and emotional investments, the child therapist must be able to contain antagonistic projections. For example, this is necessary when working with children whose parents are separated or quarreling, but also in relation to the rivalry and unconscious envy parents feel when they entrust us with their children. The Jungian concepts of the dissociability of the psyche and complex are then of great assistance in supporting the psychic work of containing these multiple personalities inside the therapist’s psyche.

1 Roussillon, R., Dictionnaire International de la Psychanalyse, sous la direction d’A. de Mijolla, entrée “métapsychologie”.

Contemporary Jungian Literature. The infant’s early skills, the archetypal expectation of a relationship with the other

Let us embark on a search of the works published by analysts working with adults, dealing with the following subjects in particular:

  • the need for metapsychological foundations,
  • the relationship with the body in connection with the actualization of the archetype,
  • the approach to transference.

In the foregoing, we have determined that these subjects are specific to Jungian child therapy. We are about to sneak up on the object whose loss is a foregone conclusion, the object I’d dreamed of when I began writing this article, that is: the influence of the specificity of work with children on the thinking of adult analysts. To do so, I shall cite three documents.

The first is mainly an experience. At the 1995 Zurich conference, I was listening with emotion to Mario Jacoby develop his intuition about the links between infant research and reductive analysis. At the time, I felt as if the child were finally being granted a body, and not just a soul, in Jungian analysis. By the same token, the adult patient in our descriptions would himself acquire more substance than in the archetypal approach, either classical or even developmental. He could at last be inhabited by a non-mystic unconscious, as Peter Fonagy, who makes fun of us sometimes, might say!

Later, Mario Jacoby published a book in which he elaborated on the insights to be gained from articulating better knowledge of the baby skills innately imprinted on the infant’s bio-psychic reality and the traces of these dimensions in the analysis of adult patients. Attention to the subtlety of mother-infant exchanges informs the understanding of the transference relationship in analysis.

The explorations begun by Mario Jacoby were certainly worth continuing. They went a long way towards fleshing out the archetypal individuation process and making it less abstract in Jungian representations of it. I was thrilled.

How does a Jungian give sufficient attention to the child within the adult without falling into a crude Freudianism which would reduce the infant to the infantile? How can we trace the contours of a metapsychology which will enable us to examine phenomena arising from the primary relationship, which the analyst will observe being repeated in transference? The need to invent a new tool is due to the fact that, usually, these phenomena (events or traumas) occurred at a very early time in the child’s psychic life, before the ability to symbolize was acquired. The analyst must then treat preverbal psychic contents, referring back to early annihilation anxieties which are scorchingly dramatic, although they often are wordless. Early psychoanalysts – even Melanie Klein – failed to take them into consideration. Today, on the other hand, our adult patients force us to create new ramifications for our theories, because of the growing number of borderline phenomena we are observing.

How Metapsychology can be Adapted to Understand Certain Types of Transference

A recent article by Donald Kalsched gave me an excellent illustration of how an adult analyst working today creates his own metapsychological resources. Kalsched, introducing diamonic elements in early trauma, calls upon Winnicott’s true self, Fairbairn’s pristine self and Christopher Bollas’s personal idiom, relating them to the Jungian archetype of the divine child and Ferenczi’s wise baby.

As child therapists, we are altogether used to enlarging the epistemological field in this way. However, among Jungian analysts working only with adults, this attitude is much rarer, if one leaves out such characters as the Bionian-Jungians, the Kohutian-Jungians, and other hyphenated types of Jungians, of whom there must be a few in the audience! The primary purpose of this openness is to connect the emergence of the archetype to its mooring in the body of the child within the adult, theorized as a somato-psychic entity carrying a specific individual history. Today, the concepts necessary to do that are available.

Kalsched’s article is yet another typical example of this interaction between child and adult analysts. Transference analysis is the second level on which the Jungian adult analyst expresses a need for a development-based epistemology applicable to the primary relationship. Indeed, as rich as it may be, the strictly Jungian concept of “incestuous transference” is not enough, if one stays within the limits of Jung’s symbolic approach. The imprint on the body of the child within the adult, the drama of bodily closeness to the mother, open a new territory of the unconscious in which the two protagonists of the relationship will need differentiated tools to think and symbolize an emotional intensity which is more felt than represented. This indicates that the here-and-now of the session is full of image-less content, and I believe adult analysts are increasingly attentive to it.

Gains in knowledge on the subject of the child and, doubtless, on the analytic relationship with the child, play a decisive role. The participation mystique experienced in transference takes on a meaning which might more explicitly include the idea of reciprocal knowledge between the analyst and patient, which would trigger mechanisms similar to those of the mother-infant relationship. Donald Kalsched enters directly into this metaphor when he describes a patient’s dissociative defences: “The dissociative defences that came in at that time to save what was left of her personal spirit clearly did not like her emerging attachment to me in the transference. … Unable to distinguish between this threatened new attachment and the traumatic earlier one, her dissociative defences tried to split her off from her body and cut her off from her therapy.”1

Jung had already encouraged us to be unconsciously involved in transference with the patient according to the symbolic modalities of incest, but developments in child analysis expand the field of this involvement. Now we can think of it within the metaphor of the mother-child relationship, which is quite different from a maternal attitude in the transference. By the way, it is interesting to note that the same movement makes it possible for our Freudian colleagues to think of the patient’s unconscious less in terms of structure, and more in terms of process …

A neuroscientific re-interpretation of the concept of transference

In discussing the reciprocal influence of work with children on the evolution and transformation of Jungian thought leads me to wonder, finally, if analysts working with adults do not feel an even more urgent need than their colleagues working with children to articulate their Jungian position with a modern theorization of the first relationships between a mother and her baby and the birth of symbolic life, as Jean Knox suggests in her book, Archetype, Attachment, Analysis: Jungian Psychology and the Emergent Mind.2

This important study should indeed open new horizons for exploration for all Jungian analysts. Those working with children will find in it a valuable theoretical foundation for all they already know from day-to-day clinical practice, i.e., the more precise articulation between archetype, attachment, and analytic process – that is, transference.

Without ever deviating from a highly scientific discipline of thought, Knox seeks how our theoretical models need to be redefined in terms of contemporary scientific findings about the way the human mind operates. She finds attachment theory crucial to an examination of analytic psychology, as this theory “combines the discipline of scientific method with the placement of interpersonal relationships at the core of its conceptualization.”

I believe that Knox’s work is part of the current movement in Jungian thought to find the common roots between the knowledge we already have of psychic movement and the emergency of symbolic life and a vision of the human giving a much greater place to contemporary research on early development. Let me cite her conclusion: “An emergent view of the development of symbolic meaning has grown out of attachment theory, which is both constructionist and biological, and out of the research of developmental psychologists who firmly embed the emergence of meaning in bodily experience. … The construction of unconscious complex representational meaning is founded and crucially depends on the early emergence of images schemas which construct physical patterns of meaning of the world around the small infant.”

1 Kalsched, D.E., “Diamonic elements in early trauma,” Journal of analytical psychology, 2003, Volume 48, No. 2, p. 149.

2 Knox, J., Archetype, Attachment, Analysis. Jungian Psychology and the Emergent Mind, Hove & New York, Routledge, 2003. p. 207.

In Conclusion

As I was ending this paper, I thought to myself that it might be futile to continue to point out and elucidate differences between adult analysts and child therapists in the Jungian world. However, I also believe that it is quite likely that child therapists should open the vas bene clausum in which they work, to voice their findings to the outside world in debates and encounters like those at this congress. They have a special way of appropriating the modernity of the Jungian legacy.

With some colleagues from the Workshop, it is what we have tried to do in publishing some of our research leaning on an open and plural Jungian position, that is to say in an integrative relationship to Jung’s theory and thought. Like an alchemist, we have tried to encounter the prima materia of the child therapy, in order to make sense of and merge new combinations, at the edges of experience.

Lastly, I would like to thank in advance the three authors whose work I cited, for their kindness. They were of great value in helping my thinking to progress.


I wanted to demonstrate the influence of the historical acknowledgement of child therapy at the Jerusalem IAAP Congress in 1983 on today’s Jungian world, especially on the clinical approach of analysts working only with adult patients. If my conclusions did not allow me to dissociate the strong influence on psychoanalysis of the contemporary research on attachment and mother-child relationship from a specific Jungian child’s therapists trace, however, I tried to show, through three examples from Jungian literature, how the need for a metapsychology of development and the study of primary and personal aspects of the patient’s life is explicit in the work and research of analysts working with adults.