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Solnit, A.J. Stark, M.H. (1961). Mourning and the Birth of a Defective Child. Psychoanal. St. Child, 16:523-537.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 16:523-537

Mourning and the Birth of a Defective Child

Albert J. Solnit, M.D. and Mary H. Stark, M.S.

The study of human crisis permits the extension of our understanding of psychological health and illness and how they overlap. These opportunities become especially fruitful when the observer is also the person offering professional assistance to those whose crisis requires them to seek help.

However, these professional people require a comprehensive theory of human development to clarify and organize their observations and to make possible formulations that lead to a useful course of action. Psychoanalysis is such a theory of human psychology. In recent years the health care professions have had opportunities to integrate insights from this theory into the care of the child and his family in many different crisis situations (Bowlby et al., 1952); (Burlingham and A. Freud, 1942); (A. Freud, 1953); (Jackson, 1942); (Lindemann, 1944); (MacKeith, 1953); (James Robertson, 1953), (1958); (Joyce Robertson, 1956); (Solnit, 1960); (Solnit and Green, 1959); (Solnit and Stark, 1959); (Spence, 1946), (1947). When a defective child is born, the pediatrician and his colleagues can make observations of the family's reactions to this catastrophic event. These observations may indicate the factors that shape the family's trauma or that lead to the family's adaptive responses.

The material on which this study is based has been collected

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1 Supported by the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the Connecticut Department of Health; and the Grant Foundation.

2 From Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics and Child Study Center.

We wish to acknowledge with warm appreciation the helpful suggestions and criticisms of Berta Bornstein, Ira Gabrielson, Sally Provence, and Milton J. E. Senn.

Certain aspects of this paper were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association in New York, March 25, 1961.

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