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Fenichel, O. (1943). The Influence of Early Environment in the Development of Neurosis and Neurotic Character: John Bowlby. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 154–178.. Psychoanal Q., 12:290-290.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Influence of Early Environment in the Development of Neurosis and Neurotic Character: John Bowlby. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 154–178.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:290-290

The Influence of Early Environment in the Development of Neurosis and Neurotic Character: John Bowlby. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 154–178.

Otto Fenichel

Bowlby presents some interesting findings from research on the importance of the childhood milieu in the development of neuroses and neurotic characters. Using material which was collected during three years at the London Child Guidance Clinic, he calls attention to the fact that this material often shows the dependence of infantile neuroses on outer circumstances in a clearer manner than does psychoanalysis. Bowlby considers libidinal relations rather than economic circumstances or housing and school conditions. He stresses the insufficiently loved child, the child who has been separated from his mother, and the child who has been exposed to the influence of a neurotic mother.

Bowlby distinguishes more remote causal circumstances from precipitating ones and he thinks that the precipitating factors often make conclusions about the causal factors possible. He shows by examples that individual mistakes in education play a less important rôle than the continuous effect of the unconscious attitudes of neurotic mothers and he discusses in detail the ways in which these unconscious attitudes influence the child. The question 'how is it that children of one family can differ so greatly in their degree of instability?' is answered by 'the fact that the emotional atmospheres in which the children of one family grow up are never the same and in some cases bear practically no resemblance to one another'. He is rather optimistic in the practical aspects of the problem and believes that frequent psychotherapeutic sessions with the mother, with the child, and with mother and child, can be very effective. Psychoanalysis is necessary in severe cases.

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Article Citation

Fenichel, O. (1943). The Influence of Early Environment in the Development of Neurosis and Neurotic Character. Psychoanal. Q., 12:290-290

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