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Joseph, B. (1966). Persecutory Anxiety in a Four–year–old Boy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:184-188.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:184-188

Persecutory Anxiety in a Four–year–old Boy

Betty Joseph


I have tried in this paper to give some picture of the early period of the analysis of a young child, to indicate how one could watch the development from a paranoid organization to an obsessional organization. I have traced the movement from the diffuse projection of violent parts of the self into his objects, with resulting extreme persecutory anxiety, to the gradual focussing of the projections into the inside of the mother's body and breasts and the slow building up of confidence in the object's capacity to contain and to modify his projections leading to the beginning of an ability to introject. I have discussed how this enabled the child to build up and maintain more successful obsessional defences in addition to and partly replacing his paranoid defence system. These obsessional techniques, defensive, precautionary, controlling and magical, extended to cover the main areas of his relationships and his thinking, and could be seen to dominate the clinical picture.

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