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Salo, F. (1985). The Analysis of a Well-Endowed Boy from an Emotionally Impoverished Environment. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):255-273.

(1985). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 8(4):255-273

The Analysis of a Well-Endowed Boy from an Emotionally Impoverished Environment

Frances Salo

Three-and-a-half-year-old Robin had never had a night's undisturbed sleep. In his battles with his mother he was so dominating that she described him as ‘like a giant’. But the picture he presented in his first diagnostic interview was such that the diagnostician considered whether he might be dull or possibly deaf. There was a pervasive inhibition and in particular a restriction in pleasurable play, although once or twice his use of language was amusing, as when he talked of soldiers as ‘shooter-pushers’.

One year after referral Robin was a confident and extremely competent child, whose ability to captivate was evident. His play had matured and it was striking how well his activities were chosen for their expressive value. He was regarded as one of the brightest children in his nursery class. The hints of his verbal charm which peeped through at the assessment flowered in the analysis and the words would come tumbling out as we walked upstairs. No longer a fearful child, he would scale up and down the lockers in our room with a natural agility. He was as passionate in his love relationships after treatment as he had been in fighting his parents before treatment. I hope to show in this paper how the transformation took place.

At the beginning of treatment we were dubious of the outcome. We questioned the parents' ability to sustain the treatment. Mrs C had had an extended period of mother guidance in another clinic and had found this unhelpful. Then the Cs lived a considerable distance from the Centre, which meant that Robin's younger toddler brother would spend up to three hours of his day travelling and in our waiting room.

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