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Hurry, A. (1981). Study Group on Atypical Children. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 4(4):291-292.

(1981). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 4(4):291-292

Study Group on Atypical Children

Ann Hurry

A number of children are referred to the Clinic who do not respond to the usual child-analytic techniques, and who cannot be fully understood within the terms of our present knowledge. For some time the need has been apparent for a technical forum where the treatment of such children could be discussed. It was hoped that the formation of this study group would meet that need, enabling us to evolve appropriate techniques and providing mutual support—since the treatment of ‘atypical’ children can be difficult and, at times, discouraging. This hope has been borne out. Our main method of approach has been to make a detailed examination of clinical material, supplemented by study of the relevant literature.

As atypical children begin to respond to treatment, we acquire an increased understanding of them, so that what is learned in the group can lead to greater diagnostic precision. The label ‘atypical’, which may be loosely applied to all those children who do not fit into any of our current diagnostic categories, covers many different types of disturbance and does not further our understanding. Agi Bene-Moses (1979) has already suggested that the category ‘narcissistic personality disturbance’ would be appropriate in regard to one type of atypical case. It is likely that a variety of other types will emerge.


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