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Geleerd, E.R. (1946). A Contribution to the Problem of Psychoses in Childhood. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:271-291.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:271-291

A Contribution to the Problem of Psychoses in Childhood

Elisabeth R. Geleerd, M.D.


The diagnosis of psychosis in childhood is made when children before puberty show in their behavior many similarities to the adult schizophrenic or manic-depressive patient. The nearer these children approach puberty the more does this disorder resemble the psychosis as described for adults. Those psychoses in childhood that are classified as schizophrenia generally are considered to have a bad prognosis.

In this paper the author wishes to draw attention to a group of children who not always are considered psychotic. They behave overtly as if they may be suffering from a milder behavior disorder. (In all these cases organic disease has been ruled out.) The author shares in this respect the view of Bender (1) and Despert (7), who have described similar symptomatologies among other more obvious psychotic symptoms.

For reasons that will be elaborated upon later the author wants to consider the disorder of these cases to be psychotic, and most likely a forerunner of schizophrenia. These disorders may resemble the ones Potter (21) considered to be pre-psychotic. Of the ten cases described here, three were diagnosed as schizophrenic in adolescence. Friedlander (10) has described analogous conditions. However, the other cases in this paper ranged between the ages of six and thirteen, and have not been observed long enough to permit a definite prognosis. Also, the fact that they have received psychoanalytic or psychoanalytically oriented treatment may have favorably influenced the course. In spite of these unknown factors, the author wishes to direct attention to this type of childhood disorder.

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