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Miller, L. (1980). Psychotherapy with Severely Deprived Children: Eileen. J. Child Psychother., 6(1):57-67.

(1980). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 6(1):57-67

Psychotherapy with Severely Deprived Children: Eileen

Lisa Miller

My aim in this paper is to produce some evidence to support the contention that a child who has suffered a severe degree of maternal deprivation can make use of therapy. In doing this I have tried to describe what seems to me to be the kind of world this particular child inhabits as a result of her early deprivation, and to say something about the difficulties consequent on a deprived start to life — the difficulties for the child, and the difficulties for those in charge of her.

My patient, Eileen, with whom I began work in November 1975 when she was 14, underwent what is perhaps the plainest sort of early deprivation that we are likely to come across. There was no single individual care-taking person in her life: she was in the care of the local authority from birth. Her mother is reported to have been of sub-normal intelligence, and she has never had any contact with Eileen and her twin brother; their father has maintained a very desultory contact. Not only were the twins born to a life with no mother, but they were also premature by two months. This meant that they spent a long while in incubators. Presumably their survival was a matter of touch and go; and they remained weakly babies, ill and in hospital on and off for their first two years. I have deliberately avoided writing about Eileen's twin; I have been able to do this because the twins do not seem to have developed the kind of special relationship which the word ‘twins’ generally calls to mind.

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