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Peller, L. (1957). The Emotionally Disturbed Child. Papers on Diagnosis, Treatment and Care: By Margaret Wilson Gerard, M.D. New York: Child Welfare League of America, Inc. N.D. 168 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 26:268-271.

(1957). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 26:268-271

The Emotionally Disturbed Child. Papers on Diagnosis, Treatment and Care: By Margaret Wilson Gerard, M.D. New York: Child Welfare League of America, Inc. N.D. 168 pp.

Review by:
Lili Peller

This is a posthumous publication of ten papers by Dr. Gerard who was for many years a dedicated consultant to several social agencies in the Middle West. Five of her papers are clinical reports of several cases offering examples of one syndrome, from which she draws general conclusions as to their common causative factors. Whether or not one accepts all her generalizations, her methodology is impressive.

In Genesis of Psychosomatic Symptoms in Infancy she attempts to correlate infantile experiences with somatic disorders. She presents thirty-eight cases under twelve years of age, most of whom were analyzed by her or by her students. Parents were interviewed as well as observed, and detailed explorations of the children's first month of life were made.

'Emphasis of focus of the mother's rejection upon particular physiological functioning in the early months', says Gerard, 'may be the differential etiological feature between schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders and between the specific different organ neuroses… For instance, mothers of ulcerative colitis cases seem to reject and be especially irritated at the time of diarrheal bowel illness; mothers of coeliacs and megacolon cases are irritated and anxious [about] constipation and thus impose enemas; of duodenal ulcers reject any feeding irregularities and dependencies; of pylorospasm resent feeding demand and control from the child; of rheumatic arthritis react to the helplessness and the need to be held and supported by rough handling, and so on.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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