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Francis, J.J. (1978). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. XXX. Parts III & IV: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.. Psychoanal Q., 47:621-627.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 47:621-627

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. XXX. Parts III & IV: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975.

Review by:
John J. Francis

Reviewing even half of this volume is difficult because so many of the papers deserve detailed reviews. I undertake the task of reviewing the sections, Clinical Contributions and Applications of Psychoanalysis, with humility and with the regret that I cannot do justice to some papers that are obviously very important contributions to psychoanalytic science.

In the section, Clinical Contributions, Maria Berger and Hansi Kennedy have written on a problem every worker in the fields of child analysis, child psychiatry, teaching, or other kinds of work with children is confronted with and bewildered by almost daily—pseudo-backwardness. In her introduction to the paper, Anna Freud points to the multiplicity of factors that are needed to insure progress in the development of orientation, active mastery, and intellectual growth in any child. Children with pseudo-backwardness possess the primary potential for normal development, but these case histories illustrate the results of inadequate and detrimental environmental responses and demonstrate how the presence or absence, as well as the quality, of any single ingredient can have the power to determine the developmental results.

The authors present four children who were studied over a period of years at the Hampstead Clinic. They conclude that the mothers' fantasies about and expectations of the children affected the mothering role to a marked degree from the very beginning of the child's life. The children were perceived from birth as damaged or inadequate. None of the mothers enjoyed breast feeding; the crying of the baby was thought by the mothers to be an expression of dissatisfaction, and they derogated any unusual aspect of the children. The fathers tended to share or reinforce the mothers' attitude toward the children. The analyses of the four children revealed that their main pathology centered around a severely damaged self-image, derived from a specific role assigned to the child by the mother who perceived the baby as an inadequate and damaged product. The backwardness actually represented an adaptive compliance with an image imposed upon the child by the mother and served to insure the mother's cathexis and to achieve a feeling of safety with her.

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