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Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Impact of Separation and Divorce
The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child  (IF0.333),  Pub Date : 2019-01-01, DOI: 10.1080/00797308.2019.1556011
Linda Gunsberg

ABSTRACT Separation and divorce are not isolated events in a child’s life, but rather, must be understood as processes that influence and reverberate throughout the life trajectory. This panel, which was presented at the 2016 American Psychoanalytic Association Winter Meetings, explores the impact of separation and divorce on children going through the court process (Sarezky film, Talk to Strangers); discusses the psychoanalytic treatment of the child (Bram) and the adult (Lament); and is the focus of observational research of infants and toddlers and research interviews with adults (Gunsberg). Our discussant (Straus) raises important questions regarding how separation and divorce influence developmental progression and become critical to the life narrative of the child and adult, and how these processes affect the parents’ ability to parent. The parent is consumed with loss: loss of the spousal relationship, loss of the family as it was previously known, loss of contact with the child, and loss of one’s own self as previously constructed. Straus concludes by considering the high-conflict parental relationship in which one parent’s preoccupation with loss leads to destructive thoughts and behaviors toward the other parent and children.