Salman Akhtar presents three rich essays brimming with psychoanalytic theory on personality development and how such knowledge enhances treatment. Essay 1 starts at the earliest infancy and takes the reader all along the path past adolescence. It addresses key developmental landmarks, including:
- Establishing a satisfactory parental bond
- Moving towards autonomy and independence
- Acquiring a moral sense
- Consolidating identity.
Essay 2 picks up after adolescence. It addresses the psychosocial challenges characteristic of young adulthood, midlife, and old age, such as:
- Assuming the role of a wage-earner and “house-holder”
- Enjoying sex, love, and marriage
- Downsizing and retiring from one’s job
- Dealing with the deaths of friends and family and facing one’s own mortality.
Essay 3 builds upon the theory that has gone before and examines how a deepened understanding of psychic development can inform the clinician’s approach. With an emphasis on development as a lifelong process, this essay provides clear guidelines for facilitating such growth, including:
- Creating psychic space for thinking
- Helping the patient find words for inner experiences
- Validating the patient’s reality
- Enhancing the sense of personal agency in the patient.
The complex tapestry woven by these three essays is extended by a prologue and an epilogue. The prologue opens with the “pre-self” – events before birth that impact on who we become. The epilogue discusses the “post-self” – how we “live on” as memories held by those who knew us.
In Leaps and Bounds deepens the understanding of the nuances of human development. It is key reading for practising and trainee psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists to enhance their clinical practice. It is highly recommended for all enquiring minds looking to expand their knowledge of what makes us who we are.