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Buxbaum, E. (1978). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. XXX. Parts I and II: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.. Psychoanal Q., 47:614-620.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 47:614-620

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. XXX. Parts I and II: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.

Review by:
Edith Buxbaum

In the first part of the thirtieth volume of this annual there are a number of excellent studies on children with deficiencies and subsequent developmental lags. Dorothy Burlingham, in "Special Problems of Blind Children," draws attention to the fact that blind babies require the mother's functioning as a supplementary ego for getting acquainted with the world around them. Mothers' reactions to their babies' deficiency, to their great and prolonged needs, can promote or delay the infants' developing compensatory skills. Blind babies use their mouths compensatorily as an instrument of cognition. Burlingham points out that blind children, fearing the loss of their need-fulfilling object through aggression, are notable for a seeming lack of aggression. It would be interesting to know what happens to their oral aggression. Aggressivization and libidinization of the mouth must be important in their ability to develop and use the mouth as an instrument of cognition. The same is true of the legs, which are used as an instrument of cognition. Burlingham sensitively observes that the immobility and quietness of blind children is not necessarily a withdrawal symptom, but is often a sign of their intense listening, which takes the place of the seeing baby's looking around. The baby may at such a quiet moment be intensely perceiving not only sounds but perhaps smells and kinesthetic sensations as well. Also the baby's sleep pattern is different from that of the seeing child. Burlingham's observations point out not only the differences in development but also the many areas of possible misunderstandings between caretaker and child which in turn influence the child's developing normal and compensatory abilities.

Steven L. Dubovsky and Stephen E. Groban, in "Congenital Absence of Sensation," write a fascinating case report about an eighteen-year-old adolescent who suffered from a congenital absence of most surface sensations and many enteroceptive ones. He did not feel hunger or thirst, pain or pleasurable sensations. He did not know his physical needs and had no spatial feeling of his body; he was therefore clumsy and got injured quite often.

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