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Buchholz, E.S. (1987). The Legacy from Childhood: Considerations for Treatment of the Adult with Learning Disabilities. Psychoanal. Inq., 7(3):431-452.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 7(3):431-452

The Legacy from Childhood: Considerations for Treatment of the Adult with Learning Disabilities

Ester S. Buchholz, Ph.D.

Now and again psychoanalytic writers (Lichtenberg, 1983; Kafka, 1984) raise questions concerning treatment of adult patients with a history of learning disabilities. To date, there are few systematic presentations of the ramifications of early cognitive difficulties on later emotional functioning.

My work with adult patients with a history of learning problems suggests a demonstrable link between irregularities in perceptual and cognitive development and later psychopathology. The motivation behind this paper is to begin to clarify how this link is recognizable in psychoanalytic practice. The impact of cognitive functioning on object constancy and on the attainment of satisfying object relations is stressed. A framework for recognizing the manifestations of faulty object relations stemming from cognitive dysfunction is also proposed.

The connection between emotional development and cognitive impairment has historical antecedents. Hartmann (1952) and Weil (1953) stated that the behavior of persons who are neurologically impaired cannot be understood within the context of one system alone, but should be examined from a holistic view.

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