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Searl, M.N. (1927). Symposium on Child-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:377-380.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:377-380

Symposium on Child-Analysis

M. N. Searl




Scattered throughout all analytical literature are observations, both theoretical and clinical, on the early causes of neuroses, their infantile origin, the paramount importance of the first five years of a child's life, the necessity in any complete adult analysis for the reconstruction and recovery of memories concerning the conflicts of these early years, and so on. These are the commonplaces of our analytical standpoint, of such frequent statement and such unquestioned authority that citation is superfluous. Yet we seem now to be confronted with an attitude on child analysis which involves the denial of them. Put briefly, the situation is this—if the conflicts essential to the formation of neuroses lie in these early years, the essential libidinal position has already taken form; early ego and super-ego, derived from libidinal sources, have already taken that alignment to libidinal trends which is the determining factor for all subsequent development. From the point of view of libido the situation remains in essentials the same through subsequent years. Ego alterations now take the place of prime importance, involving also differentiations of the accretions to the early libidinally derived super-ego, but no fundamental alteration of it—otherwise it is clear that we should find cases in which these subsequent alterations were responsible for the formation of neuroses so that we should sometimes be spared the task of penetrating to the infantile origins. Put more briefly still, after his first five or six years the neurotic human being is in libidinal essentials the same, in ego development different.

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