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Selwyn, R. (1984). Character Disorder Due to Envy: Some Aspects of the Psychotherapy of a Ten-Year-Old Girl. J. Child Psychother., 10(1):27-46.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(1):27-46

Character Disorder Due to Envy: Some Aspects of the Psychotherapy of a Ten-Year-Old Girl

Ruth Selwyn

The Referral

Andrea was ten when she was referred to the clinic by her parents. The family had just moved to London for a few years, father having been posted here by his employers. As a result of father's various postings, the family had moved around extensively since Andrea's birth. Andrea had thus been subjected to changes of nursery and school a number of times.

Mother told me in our first interview that even before her marriage she had experienced a similar pattern to Andrea's of constant moving and being uprooted. Mother “quite liked it”. It seemed to fit some need in her to get away and leave behind various experiences and attempts to come to terms with them. However, Andrea's therapy, which started on their arrival in London, has resulted in the parents themselves becoming involved in regular, fortnightly meetings at the clinic with the social worker. This work gave them more settled feelings and seems to have subdued their inclination to move so often.

The parents had clearly been anxious for many years about what they described as Andrea's “strange development from very early on”. On referral, they produced a voluminous amount of reports based on tests Andrea had undergone since babyhood. The first set of these had to do with Andrea's astigmatism (she wears glasses) and with her slightly delayed motor development (although her speech mastery, at fifteen months, was early). Later psychological and neurophysiological tests pointed to her high language ability and above average I.

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