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Sheehan-Dare, H. (1933). Childhood: Susan Isaacs. 'Some notes on the Incidence of Neurotic Difficulties in Young Children.' British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1932, vol. II, p. 184.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:113-114.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Childhood: Susan Isaacs. 'Some notes on the Incidence of Neurotic Difficulties in Young Children.' British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1932, vol. II, p. 184.

(1933). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 14:113-114

Childhood: Susan Isaacs. 'Some notes on the Incidence of Neurotic Difficulties in Young Children.' British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1932, vol. II, p. 184.

H. Sheehan-Dare

After dwelling on the importance, both theoretical and practical, of the relative frequency of neurotic difficulty in young children, Dr. Isaacs proceeds to classify and analyse some 400 letters, selected from a total of 572 received by her as advisory correspondent to a weekly paper read chiefly by mothers and others concerned with nursery problems. She quotes from a considerable number of the letters.

Theoretically, she points out, the importance of frequency lies in the check it places on the assumption that a definite line can be drawn between the 'normal' and the 'abnormal'. Neurosis in childhood is a matter of degree. Almost all children produce some neurotic symptoms between the ages of 2 and 6 years. The practical importance of frequency is in its bearing on diagnosis and treatment.

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The question 'What is meant by a neurotic difficulty?' is answered fully in a brief account of the Freudian theory of ego development and its relation to the anxiety and guilt which lie behind many forms of troubled behaviour in little children.

The letters have positive evidential value in several ways:—

The children, 342 of whom are under 6 years of age, are all from good middle-class homes, and therefore not subject to the influences of extreme poverty.

When the letters record a sudden change for the worse in the child's behaviour, the absence of any known adequate stimulus is striking, and this would seem to confirm the importance of internal, as opposed to environmental, factors, though the value of real events is not to be underestimated.

When due allowance has been made for distortion, exaggeration and omission on the part of the writers, the correspondence still points to the probability of difficulties more serious and wide-spread than many theorists would admit, and to the need for further observation and research.

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Article Citation

Sheehan-Dare, H. (1933). Childhood. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:113-114

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