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Spitz, R.A. Wolf, K.M. (1946). Anaclitic Depression—An Inquiry Into the Genesis of Psychiatric Conditions in Early Childhood, Ii. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:313-342.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:313-342

Anaclitic Depression—An Inquiry Into the Genesis of Psychiatric Conditions in Early Childhood, Ii

René A. Spitz, M.D. and Katherine M. Wolf, Ph.D.

I. Observation

A. A circumscribed psychiatric syndrome

In the course of a long term study of infant behavior in a nursery where we observed 123 unselected infants, each for a period of twelve to eighteen months, we encountered a striking syndrome. In the second half of the first year, a few of these infants developed a weepy behavior that was in marked contrast to their previously happy and outgoing behavior. After a time this weepiness gave way to withdrawal. The children in question would lie in their cots with averted faces, refusing to take part in the life of their surroundings. When we approached them we were ignored. Some of these children would watch us with a searching expression. If we were insistent enough, weeping would ensue and, in some cases, screaming. The sex of the approaching experimenter made no difference in the reaction in the majority of cases. Such behavior would persist for two to three months. During this period some of these children lost weight instead of gaining; the nursing personnel reported that some suffered from insomnia, which in one case led to segregation of the child. All showed a greater susceptibility to intercurrent colds or eczema. A gradual decline in the developmental quotient was observed in these cases.

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