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(1956). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXV, 1955: The Psychological Problems of the Congenitally Blind Child. Nyla J. Cole and Leonard H. Taboroff. Pp. 627-639. Discussion, pp. 640-643.. Psychoanal Q., 25:621-622.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXV, 1955: The Psychological Problems of the Congenitally Blind Child. Nyla J. Cole and Leonard H. Taboroff. Pp. 627-639. Discussion, pp. 640-643.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:621-622

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXV, 1955: The Psychological Problems of the Congenitally Blind Child. Nyla J. Cole and Leonard H. Taboroff. Pp. 627-639. Discussion, pp. 640-643.

The congenitally blind present three kinds of problem: 1, their relation to the therapist; 2, the effects of blindness on personality; and 3, the problem of semantics. A sixteen-year-old girl, blind since the age of six months, had received

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care for her physical needs but otherwise was left to her own devices. By the second year of high school she was failing socially and educationally. She was a caricature of blind dependency. Her mother treated her as though she were not blind. The patient's therapist had personally dealt with blindness in her own family. This helped decisively in the beginning of therapy. The patient feared her capricious and unpredictable mother. The patient's behavior was baffling because of the apparent absence of any well-defined defense. If she received any stimulus she responded by doing nothing. The task of treatment was to make her surroundings more predictable and controllable. She controlled herself by avoidance of any aggressive action. The patient's associations would have seemed bizarre were it not that reality is so different for a blind person. Animistic concepts were much more prevalent than in seeing patients. The girl recounted many instances of anxiety in which objects were regarded as guilty of action. In a blind girl, this is not projection but rather a primitive attempt to explain cause and effect. She had peculiar ideas about sexual matters because it is difficult to communicate such matters to the young blind person. The parents were also treated and her mother became more accepting of the girl and overcame her own denial; she, on her own initiative, blindfolded herself within the home for a day and was appalled to learn how mistaken she had been in her idea that the blind are not different. The mother tolerated some hostile behavior by her daughter, who became able to be properly dependent upon her.

In the discussion, Dr. Robert C. Murphy stressed three therapeutic principles: reality education, recognition of ego functions, and 'environmental gentling'. Dr. Henry Harper Hart suggested that the blind person feels permanently castrated, and consequently is deeply mistrustful; this mistrust re-enforces a desire to be a permanent burden on the parents, who are unconsciously held responsible for the castration. Since only analysis can help some seeing persons to get true perceptive pleasure from reality, may not the same be true of the blind? Enjoyment of the external world depends more on libidinal freedom than upon intactness of sensory apparatus.

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Article Citation

(1956). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXV, 1955. Psychoanal. Q., 25:621-622

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