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Kennedy, H. (1975). Pseudobackwardness in Children—Maternal Attitudes as an Etiological Factor. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:279-306.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:279-306

Clinical Contributions

Pseudobackwardness in Children—Maternal Attitudes as an Etiological Factor

Hansi Kennedy


In the four cases we have described, as well as in the remaining three that were studied, the inhibitions of ego functions were far-reaching. We have defined their pseudobackwardness descriptively, taking as a point of departure the parents' or educators' view of the child. We found, however, that the child's presenting himself in this way was due to his unconscious compliance with the image imposed on him by his mother. To be sure, all the children had neurotic conflicts, but it was not the magnitude of their conflicts which accounted for their generally "backward" way of functioning. We assume that quite early in their development these children adapted to their mothers' perception of them, in order to ensure their mothers' cathexis and to preserve feelings of safety. In that

sense these children may be said to have developed as distorted personalities rather than as neurotically disturbed children.

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