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Lebovici, S. Diatkine, R. (1964). The Contribution of the Theory of the Technique of Child Analysis to the Understanding of Character Neuroses. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:344-347.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:344-347

The Contribution of the Theory of the Technique of Child Analysis to the Understanding of Character Neuroses

S. Lebovici and R. Diatkine

Patients suffering from character neuroses present a very special problem to the psychiatrist or psycho-analyst. Although the whole of the personality is disturbed, they have no awareness of this disturbance. They are distressed at finding themselves in conflict with their surroundings: the repetition of these difficulties has led them to the vague conclusion that something is wrong, but they do not feel ill and are prompt to draw back when their own behaviour is examined. They only accept treatment with reservations—and many of them are slow to co-operate with it—refusing to express their thoughts in words and frequently passing over into action.

Freud and Abraham have shown that alongside the symptomatic neuroses there exist neurotic organizations of personality and behaviour-traits which have the same function as symptoms. Glover has described the projective nature of the neurotic character and Reich presented some views on the handling of characterological defences. It was Anna Freud who described this defensive behaviour both in children and adults.

In the 1920s it was mainly the work of various child analysts to show the importance, when dealing with behaviour problems, of grasping the complex interactions within the family group. In the conflicts between parents and children which have brought about the consultation, neither party has any real awareness of the exact nature of their anxiety nor of the character defences they have developed in order to protect themselves from it.

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