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Rosenfeld, S. (1968). Choice of Symptom: Notes on a Case of Retention. J. Child Psychother., 2(2):38-49.

(1968). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 2(2):38-49

Choice of Symptom: Notes on a Case of Retention

Sara Rosenfeld

It is one of the features of up-to-date methods of child rearing that we advise mothers to attempt habit training only when the child's physical development has reached a stage where sphincter control is possible. Thus we encourage habit training at a moment in the child's development when the anal zone and his body products are most highly cathected.

Anna Freud reminds us in her recent book (1965) that in the 2nd phase of the Developmental Line from Wetting and Soiling to Bladder and Bowel Control, the child “stiffens his opposition to any interference with concerns which have become emotionally vital to him”. She comments on the dual cathexis of the child's investment of his body products (with libido and aggression) which is carried over into the highly ambivalent object relationships of the toddler. The role of the mother as a sympathetic mediator between the toddler's drives and his immature ego and the demands from the environment is particularly stressed. Even those mothers whose own psychopathology does not unduly interfere with this task find that they have to be highly sensitive to

(1)  During this phase the infant has complete freedom to wet and soil and the duration of this phase is determined by the environmental intervention rather than by maturation.

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