Friends in Old Age
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- Edward, J. Clin Soc Work J (2016) 44: 198. doi:10.1007/s10615-015-0532-7
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Psychoanalysis has long recognized the vital role that relationships between people play in human development and in the maintenance of sense of well being throughout life. While the internalization of representations of significant others and their interactions with each other, the achievement of object constancy, makes it possible to gain support from the realization that we live in the minds of others and they in ours’, it is “not enough.” We need people “in the flesh” from “cradle to grave.” Unfortunately, this need is more difficult to meet in our later years. Parents, siblings, mates, love partners die. Children move away. No longer do we have daily contact with our work colleagues. Old friends are lost, never to be replaced, making the ability to form and maintain additional friendships as well as the opportunity to do so critical in the life of the elderly. This paper considers the roles that friends play in old age, the developmental achievements that contribute to the capacity for friendship, some of the factors that may impede doing so, and finally the ways in which psychoanalytic treatment may foster an individual’s ability to be a friend and make friends.