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Mahler-Schoenberger, M. (1942). Pseudoimbecility: A Magic Cap of Invisibility. Psychoanal Q., 11:149-164.

(1942). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 11:149-164

Pseudoimbecility: A Magic Cap of Invisibility

Margaret Mahler-Schoenberger


Pseudostupidity enables children as well as infantile adults to participate to an amazingly unlimited extent in the sexual life of parents and other adults.

In my cases the manoeuvre of the children was emotionally fully reciprocated by a parent or sibling because it met the adult's own unconscious desire, isolated from his feelings of guilt.

This utilization of stupidity is widespread because mutual sexual desires are gratified on a preverbal affective level, without

becoming conscious through word pictures, which renders repression or other defense measures unnecessary.

Thus children and parents are able to maintain a distorted but gratifying affective communion which would otherwise be limited to mother and infant.

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