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Acquarone, S. (1995). Mens Sana in Corpore Sano: Psychotherapy with A Cerebral Palsy Child Aged Nine Months. Psychoanal. Psychother., 9:41-57.

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(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 9(1):41-57

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano: Psychotherapy with A Cerebral Palsy Child Aged Nine Months

Stella Acquarone

This paper is the account of the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of a nine-month-old cerebral-palsy infant and her mother. When first seen, Abigail hung over her mother's arm, and would scream unceasingly if moved from this position. The mother-child relationship seemed to involve their sticking to each other without looking or losing contact. The mother's hidden hate, anger and resentment were communicated non-verbally and Abigail showed signs of finding it difficult or impossible to integrate experiences, given the amount of trauma she had suffered from an attempted abortion and the lack of enough experience of being loved to enable her to grow internally.

The process of assessing the internal world of the infant and her mother, and the thinking and planning of the psychotherapy that followed, are described. In order to promote the secure attachment of the mother-child dyad, and the emotional growth of both, the helping process focused on understanding both the baby's and mother's states in order to make sense of the child's inner world to the mother. Because of the acute pain this process involved for the mother, she was treated individually too, by a different therapist.

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