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Gomberoff, M. de Gomberoff, L.P. (2000). Autistic Devices in Small Children in Mourning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(5):907-920.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(5):907-920

Autistic Devices in Small Children in Mourning

Mario Gomberoff and Liliana Pualuan de Gomberoff

The authors set out to show what happens to two small girl-patients who, starting from similar events (mother's pregnancy and birth of a sibling), developed traumatic mourning that could not be managed in the way that is usual for normal or neurotic children. Autistic devices were generated in these patients in order to protect their mental economy. They consider that this way of reacting is not justified either by the quality or by the intensity of the external stimuli and that these patients may have had a predisposition. To operate with this mechanism, the patients had to distort their mental apparatus and their own self in such a way that expressions such as language were affected in both of them: verbal language disappeared in one of them and in the other fulfilled functions other than communication. Atrophies and breaks in development to impede perception and meaning of the facts from becoming loose were also generated, strengthening the denial. The analyst's protective inclusion and his sustained effort to understand what was happening, to maintain communication and a receptive and understanding attitude, plus interpretation, made it possible for both patients to rely on a new device, constituted by the analyst, who helped to lessen the hard protective layer and make sense organs and self more permeable, processing the conflict so that more normal development could resume.

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