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Seides, S.W. (1973). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. XXXVI, 1972: Relation of Language Development to Problem Solving Ability. David A. Freedman. Pp. 583-595.. Psychoanal Q., 42:478-479.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. XXXVI, 1972: Relation of Language Development to Problem Solving Ability. David A. Freedman. Pp. 583-595.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:478-479

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. XXXVI, 1972: Relation of Language Development to Problem Solving Ability. David A. Freedman. Pp. 583-595.

S. Warren Seides

Drawing primarily upon Freud's topographic theory of mental functioning, the author shows that the process of problem solving need have no direct connection with the use of language; that language occurs without thought and that thought occurs without any prior exposure to language. An example

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of the former is seen in autistic children who can repeat words and phrases in a foreign language but cannot use words for communication. On the other hand, studies of deaf children confirm that if they have developed adequate early object relationships, they can think conceptually long before they attach words to their thoughts. Other observations in normal, congenitally deaf, and blind children indicate that vocalization develops independently from audition and is only later integrated into an apparatus for communication by means of language. What, then, is the developmental connection between thought and words? Freedman is drawn to Escalona's hypothesis that development of personality is not a direct result of the interaction of the organism and its environment, but involves the operation of an intervening variable designated as a 'pattern of concrete experience'. If a child progresses to the point of differentiation of self and object, with the establishment of both object relationships and internalized object representations, problem solving ability can be achieved. The echolalic/autistic child lacks this ability because of the absence of the synthetic ego function. The congenitally deaf child's situation is the reverse. He has achieved internal self-object differentiation, for oral language is of relative unimportance during the preoedipal period. Therefore his behavior is adaptive (problem solving) and his difficulty occurs later in communication (understanding the nature of the problem). Even with normal children the developing, immature ego does not correlate psychological understanding with language development. Clinical examples from the work of Fraiberg, M. Wulff, and the author convincingly substantiate the thesis.

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Article Citation

Seides, S.W. (1973). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. XXXVI, 1972. Psychoanal. Q., 42:478-479

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