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O'Shaughnessy, E. (1986). A 3½-Year-Old Boy's Melancholic Identification with an Original Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:173-179.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:173-179

A 3½-Year-Old Boy's Melancholic Identification with an Original Object

Edna O'Shaughnessy

I shall describe a very short analysis of a child who is identified with a primal object which keeps reverting internally to a damaged and accusing condition.

Tim, as I call him, is 3½. He has a 'big' brother, as Tim calls him, of 5 years, a younger brother of 2, and was faced by a new pregnancy which caused a crisis between him and his mother. When she saw me she told me that Tim, always a poor sleeper, was not sleeping at all. During the day he was obstructive, clinging, suddenly attacking, content only if the two other boys were away. She was depressed, extremely fatigued and unconsciously very hostile to Tim, but also affectionate.

She told me of a crisis which started when Tim was two months old and which ended in an early unhappy weaning. She was breast-feeding him and being out one evening he was given a bottle in her absence. Next day he screamed and refused the breast. For weeks she struggled to breast-feed him and tried many formulae, all of which Tim refused. She felt very rejected. She and Tim 'worked each other up'—'We still do', she added. Finally, she had managed to wean him to goat's milk. In the interview, her unspoken appeal was 'Free me. Take him'.

There is space for only the briefest sketch of the beginning of the analysis. Tim's feeling of being squashed under too many pressures, and his hatred of mother for having a new baby and for bringing him to me, rapidly emerged. Mother, told by Tim he had screamed and kicked me, herself screamed at me down the telephone, 'My child's not aggressive'.

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