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Herbert, S. (1922). The Psychogenetic Root of Enuresis. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(3):263-266.

(1922). Psychoanalytic Review, 9(3):263-266

The Psychogenetic Root of Enuresis

S. Herbert, M.D.

According to Freud's teaching the excretory functions (urinary and alvine) are charged in infancy with a sexual feeling tone, and under certain abnormal conditions tend to replace the sex function altogether. It is for this reason that Freud was induced to enlarge the term sexuality so as to include the erogenous nature of the excretory bodily openings. By a parity of reasoning it followed that enuresis should have an unconscious sexual root and should be amenable to psycho-analytical treatment. The success in the treatment of such cases has justified the theory completely.

The following case is so typical and shows the features indicated in such a clear and unmistakable manner, that it seems to deserve publication. As it turned out to be a very neat example in miniature of the psycho-analytical method I cannot refrain from giving it in the true sequence of the sittings, shortened, of course, and reduced to essentials for the purpose of this exposition.

1.   Sitting 1: The patient, sent to me by his doctor after two years' unsuccessful treatment by drugs, organ-therapy, etc., is a young electrician, eighteen years old. He has suffered from enuresis right through his life, but especially so from his seventh year. Rarely a day passed without his wetting his bed at night. It generally happened in the middle of the night during his sleep without his awakening. He also had some difficulty in holding his water during the daytime. Patient, a tall and lanky, overgrown boy, is rather of the lymphatic type, with bad, serrated teeth and the appearance of mental backwardness. He is the youngest of three brothers: rather pampered by his mother.

On account of his mental slowness it was thought advisable at first to try suggestion as a remedial measure.

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