The Enigma of Childhood: The Profound Impact of the First Years of Life on Adults as Couples and Parents

Author(s) : Ronnie Solan

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The Enigma of Childhood: The Profound Impact of the First Years of Life on Adults as Couples and Parents

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : September 2015
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 418
  • Category :
    Child and Adolescent Studies
  • Catalogue No : 36119
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782202110
  • ISBN 10 : 1782202110
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In this book Ronnie Solan traces the way that early psychic development from birth up to three years is reflected throughout our lifespan, including adulthood, couplehood and parenthood. The inner child reverberating within us (consciously and unconsciously) and thus present in our ongoing interactions with others, often colours and guides our current experiences, whether with our life partner or children, and as psychotherapists, with our patients. Our openness to its resonance allows us to become more attuned to and emotionally accessible to ourselves and others.

The author’s primary aim is to familiarize the reader with her innovative idea of the emotional immune system managed by a healthy narcissism and operating via the inner reverberations of hidden childhood narratives. Our sense of familiar self is accordingly consolidated and immunised to an invasion by foreign sensations.

References to world literature, and clinical vignettes taken from the author’s perceptive observations and dynamic treatments, are used to illustrate her theoretical innovations regarding healthy narcissism, her conceptualization of jointness as a key facet of object relations and of the art of couplehood, and her original and creative account of the ego’s mechanisms of adaptation and defence.

Reviews and Endorsements

The Enigma of Childhood is a profound and fascinating journey into the depths of the child’s psyche, the course of his emotional and personality development, and the formative relationships that touch us all. A warm and heartening book.’
––Amos Oz, novelist, journalist, and professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University, Israel

‘Readers of this book will benefit from Ronnie Solan’s journey in and out of many doors. She has taken on the difficult task of attempting a synthesis of the classical structures of psychoanalytic and object relations theory with multiple other theoretical systems. This book will challenge you as it gives you new information about what each partner brings to their intimate relationships.’
––Vernon C. Kelly, Jr., MD, Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, The Tomkins Institute: Applied Studies in Motivation, Emotion, and Cognition; author of The Art of Intimacy and the Hidden Challenge of Shame; and co-editor, The Psychology of Emotion in Restorative Practice: How Affect Script Psychology Explains How and Why Restorative Practice Works

‘Enriched by contemporary neurobiological findings, Solan elaborates the deepest conceptualisation of the several narcissistic dimensions that enable ego development and the maintenance of jointness-separateness – emphasizing especially the narcissistic envelope and autoimmune functions and the ‘befriending’ of otherness – and their role in balancing the inherent stresses of object relationships; all crucial for understanding child development, couples in relation, and the interpretive process.’
––Moshe Halevi Spero, PhD, Professor and Director, The Postgraduate Program of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University, and Editor-in-Chief, Ma’rag: The Israel Annual of Psychoanalysis

‘Many years ago, a colleague of mine, commenting on the insular nature of the thinking of many psychologists, noted that when a psychology graduate student enters the field, she or he proceeds down a hallway off of which there are thirteen or so doors. Once one picks a door to enter, they seldom if ever venture outside for the remainder of their career. Readers of The Enigma of Childhood are the beneficiaries of Ronnie Solan’s journey in and out of many doors.

She has taken on the difficult task of attempting a synthesis of the classical structures of psychoanalytic and object relations theory with multiple other theoretical systems, including the innovative, biologically-based theories of affect and emotion put forward by American psychologist and philosopher Silvan S. Tomkins. Whether she succeeds in this complex undertaking is up to the reader to decide. However, scholars and therapists interested in the psychological complexity of child development and its subsequent impact on intimate, interpersonal relationships would do well to not ignore the theoretical conclusions of someone with Ronnie’s broad academic background, teaching experience and extensive psychoanalytic practice working with children, adults and couples. She is an original thinker who has added her voice to those of the most important child development theorists of the past century, including Spitz, Piaget, Winnicott, Bowlby, Erikson, Anna and Sigmund Freud, Kohut, Mahler, and Stern, amongst others.

Of particular interest to couples’ therapists and theoreticians is that The Enigma of Childhood “highlights the unconscious emotional checks and balances that are first formed during the oral and anal stages and then accompany us throughout life—whenever individuals…are involved in a relationship….” She describes how shame may be activated in a couple over the exposure by one or the other of such oral stage phenomena as neediness and dependency or over the appearance of anal stage issues such as the need for control, mastery or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. This is, however, but a small fragment in an impressive undertaking that presents multiple perspectives on how the child hidden within us reflects our childhood experiences, not unlike, as she says, “a Russian babushka doll.” Readers are hereby warned, this babushka doll has more levels than most. It will challenge you as it gives you more and new information about what each partner brings to their intimate relationships.’
–Vernon C. Kelly, Jr., M.D. Wyndmoor, author of The Art of Intimacy and the Hidden Challenge of Shame, co-Editor of The Psychology of Emotion in Restorative Practice: How Affect Script Psychology Explains How and Why Restorative Practice Works, and Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus, The Tomkins Institute: Applied Studies in Motivation, Emotion, and Cognition.

About the Author(s)

Dr Ronnie Solan trained as a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in Switzerland and in Israel, where she became a training and supervising analyst (child and adult). She currently works in Tel Aviv with children, adults and couples. For many years she lectured at the Israel Psychoanalytic Society in Jerusalem and in the Postgraduate Psychotherapy Section, Faculty of Continuing Medical Education, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University. In Switzerland she had the privilege of studying under some of the foremost psychologists and psychoanalysts of our generation, including Jean Piaget at Geneva University, and Prof. Rene Spitz at the Swiss Society of Psychoanalysis, Geneva. The Enigma of Childhood is her first book in English. The original version of the book (2007) has been widely acclaimed by the Hebrew-reading public.

Customer Reviews

Our customers have given this title an average rating of 5 out of 5 from 1 review(s), add your own review for this title.

Phil Sunshine on 05/09/2015 10:20:01

Rating1Rating2Rating3Rating4Rating5 (5 out of 5)

As a father of 3 young children who is living through the constant challenges of "how should I handle this situation", I have been reading through this book and using it as a guide. Not only for the "what" but also for the "why". I feel like a better parent when I understand the longer term impact of how I handle situations.

The stories and anecdotes are entertaining and I can see how common the situations I am facing really are.

I have been recommending this to all new dads and highly recommend it to you!

The Enigma of Childhood

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