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Grinberg, L. (1966). Comment on Dr Ritvo's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:145-148.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:145-148

Comment on Dr Ritvo's Paper

León Grinberg

In this paper, Dr Ritvo basically deals with Anna Freud's statement about the need to achieve a better understanding of the shift from the phobic neurosis, with its bodily forms of expression, to the obsessional neurosis with its predominantly mental symptoms.

Ritvo postulates that the reasons for the shift in Frankie's infantile phobic neurosis to an adult obsessional neurosis are: developmental normal changes, a more highly developed reality-testing capacity, and the attainment of abstract and logical thought. Some may find this statement paradoxical if they approach it in the light of classical concepts according to which phobic symptoms belong to a more highly developed stage of evolution than obsessional symptoms characterized by regression and ambivalence. It follows that Ritvo's ideas tend to consider, in this case, obsessive mechanisms as the result of a progression rather than a regression.

If Ritvo's hypothesis is the one I assume it is, then I think it is a correct one. The basis for my belief is, however, different from Ritvo's and I shall here attempt an explanation of my view.

Almost every child analyst and most adult analysts are well aware of how frequent and important phobic symptoms may be in small children as a way of expressing anxiety. Phobias of animals or specific objects or aspects of external reality are primarily based on the projection of the feared superego. But, according to M. Klein (1946), this fear covers more primitive fears. Phobias stem not only from the anxiety of being castrated by an external image (the man in the lift, or the wolf-father hidden under Frankie's bed) but, as Ritvo pointed out, also from the fear of his own destructive impulses.

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