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Katan, A. (1946). Experiences with Enuretics. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:241-255.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:241-255

Experiences with Enuretics

Anny Katan, M.D.

Enuresis is one of the most frequent neurotic symptoms. Difficulty is apt to arise in the beginning of its study because constitutional disposition as well as various traumata may play a part in it. One often finds in the history of enuretic children that siblings have wet up to the age of five or six; with the siblings the symptom disappeared then, without apparent reason, while in the one child it may have persisted up to the age of ten. I remember one family in which seven out of eight children suffered from enuresis. The parents found it comparatively easy to accept this situation, as they themselves had suffered from the same symptom. There are other cases, however, in which only one child in a family has been unable to achieve bladder control.

Experiences with non-treated cases are contradictory. One frequently hears of cases in which the symptom has been removed by talks, explanations, threats, or punishments; and of others in which the symptom obstinately withstands any attempt at interference. There is a widely accepted view that bedwetting disappears by itself at puberty, especially in girls with the onset of menstruation. This is true in some cases, but unfortunately it is not the rule. As a result of army medical examinations we are now in a position to know better than we did that the number of adult bedwetters is much greater than is commonly supposed; nor is the number of grown-up girls small in whom the symptom continues after the onset of menstruation.

Cases also vary a great deal in regard to the time when the symptom appears. With many children who develop normally at first and are dry at night for some time, enuresis sets in later on. In these cases one can frequently find a traumatic experience preceding the appearance of the symptom; in my experience, these respond most favorably to treatment. There are children, however, whose condition I consider to be far more serious, who have continued to wet from babyhood up to the time of treatment. Then again, some bedwetters can keep dry under certain conditions, e.g., when on a visit, after giving a promise, etc.; or in the company of certain people.

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