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Dale, F. (1984). The Re-Unification of Sundip: The Bringing Together of Split-off Parts of the Personality in a Boy with Psychotic Features. J. Child Psychother., 10(2):217-232.

(1984). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 10(2):217-232

The Re-Unification of Sundip: The Bringing Together of Split-off Parts of the Personality in a Boy with Psychotic Features

Francis Dale


From time to time in the Child Guidance setting we are confronted with children who arouse so much worry and anxiety amongst those concerned with their welfare that nothing less than intensive psychotherapy or even hospital admission seems the appropriate course of action to take.

The case I am about to present certainly comes into the above category. However, because of the extreme paranoia of this client to any outside intervention, it proved impossible to engage him in therapy on more than a once weekly basis. Sundip, the boy in question is without doubt the most disturbed and disturbing child whom I have come across so far in my work as a therapist. Consequently, this paper is as much about our joint survival — as client and therapist — as about his journey from near madness to relative sanity.

Family History

Sundip is fourteen years old, the only child of a Ugandan Asian marriage. He was conceived five years after his parents married when his mother was nearly forty and his father fifty years of age. Sundip's mother spends all of her time at home while her husband, an international businessman, spends much of this time abroad on business trips.

The only other known case of mental illness in either family is in a relative of Sundip's mother who is reported to have suffered several schizophrenic type breakdowns.

Case History

Sundip was first referred to the School Psychological Service in September 1980 when he was just over eleven because of a marked lack of co-ordination and “excessive nervous re-action from any kind of physical contact”. If anyone came near him Sundip would shrink away in terror, becoming quite hysterical if actually touched. This led to him being mercilessly baited and cruelly taunted by other children in order to elicit this extreme reaction.”

He was assessed by an educational psychologist who found him to be of above average ability — especially in the use of language — but very isolated and completely lacking in social skills; having no friends either inside our outside of school and never having been outside the house by himself or having bought an item from a shop on his own. He was so unco-ordinated that he couldn't catch a ball and his writing was so “screwed up” as to be almost illegible.

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