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Sharpe, E.F. (1927). Symposium on Child-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 8:380-384.

(1927). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 8:380-384

Symposium on Child-Analysis

Ella F. Sharpe




As a contribution to this discussion I should like to give the reactions which I carefully registered on a recent occasion when treating a girl of fifteen years. The experience was a novel one for me, and illuminated as nothing else could have done what surely must be some of the causes of the resistances against the analysis of children by the technique of direct interpretation of play activity adopted by Melanie Klein. My previous experience with an adolescent girl was six years ago, since when I have been engaged solely on adult analyses. Whatever the difficulties that beset the latter, one is accustomed to dealing with them through the unperturbed suspension of one's mind working freely in complete emotional detachment. The patient's reactions to the analyst provide the most valuable of the analysable material. The parent of the adult patient as a reality factor in the actual analysis is absent.

I had no misgivings in accepting a fifteen-year-old girl for analysis since my previous case, though six years ago, worked out successfully.

The girl had been sent down from school because she had been discovered writing what was described as an obscene letter to a boy. Complete sexual knowledge was demonstrated in the letter. The parents were horrified by the disclosure. The father was too ill to get up for two days. The mother on advice went to a psycho-analytical doctor, who sent the girl to me. The mother came to see me before the girl had her first treatment, and one of her first remarks was that she hoped her daughter was not going to get the idea that mothers never understood their daughters. Her daughter had seemed to intimate that she thought so after she had seen the doctor, and this, the mother said in a warning tone, 'was making her think'. She wanted her daughter to remain dutiful and obedient. I asked her to give me an account of her child. I gathered from her that the girl had always been a happy contented child, she had been singularly innocent, and had never had any impure thoughts until she met this boy a year ago. She had learnt these things from the boy.

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