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Hitschmann, E. (1924). Heightened Instinctual Life and Obsessional Neurosis in a Child. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:332-342.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:332-342

Heightened Instinctual Life and Obsessional Neurosis in a Child

Ed. Hitschmann

Freud has recently drawn attention to the analogies of thought and feeling between obsessional neurotics and savages. Since the savage resembles the obsessional neurotic in certain of his ordinances, prohibitions and many ceremonials, and also very strongly psychologically in the ambivalence of feeling, it is perhaps not quite paradoxical that the obsessional neurotic should once upon a time have been a 'savage' too. Such a supposition will most likely be found realized in his childhood. For that reason a case remarkable for the objective data directly observed on the child and for a comprehensive description of its instinctual life will be valuable.

The case is one of a boy suffering from obsessional symptoms, who at the age of thirteen came for mental treatment for a short period on account of backwardness in his studies. The symptoms comprised prohibitions of contact, in which considerations of 'dirty or clean' played a part, commands of contact ('what he had touched once he had to touch eight times; what he had touched with the left he had also to touch with the right hand'), obsessive ceremonial on going to bed, obsessive inhibitions, obsessive movements of the head, etc. The boy's nature is cruel, malicious and tyrannical, especially towards his younger brother; he is defiant—in his obstinacy he could fast for days and deny himself all pleasure—and he is given to attacks of rage during which the expression of his face changes completely and he becomes capable of anything.

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