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Rycroft, C. (1962). An Observation on the Defensive Function of Schizophrenic Thinking and Delusion-Formation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:32-39.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:32-39

An Observation on the Defensive Function of Schizophrenic Thinking and Delusion-Formation

Charles Rycroft


The material to be presented in this paper is derived from an analysis which ended with the committal of the patient to a mental hospital, where he was diagnosed schizophrenic. As many analysts would never have started with such a patient, while others would have adopted some modification of technique, probably including management and control of the patient's environment, I must begin by mentioning a number of facts which will, I hope, make it comprehensible that such a patient should have been in analysis and prevent my listeners being distracted from my main theme, which is theoretical, by queries about technique and doubts whether I knew what kind of patient I had on my hands. The relevant facts are, briefly:

i. The analysis was undertaken on the initiative of the patient's father, who was well aware both that his son had a psychotic illness and that psycho-analysis is a form of treatment designed for neurotic disorders. He knew therefore that his son's treatment was experimental and that he could be given no assurance of a cure.

ii. Prior to coming to me the patient had not only had E.C.T. and Insulin therapy, but had also been in psychotherapy with a therapist who had actively encouraged him to lead a less secluded life; this had been without much effect.

iii. Although the material which I shall present stresses the patient's extreme isolation and shows him to have been incapable of functioning for any length of time as an autonomous adult, he

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