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Freud, A. (1979). Foreword. Psychoanal. St. Child, 34:3-4.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 34:3-4

Foreword

Anna Freud

THE HAMPSTEAD CLINIC'S INVOLVEMENT WITH BLIND INFANTS, BLIND children, and their mothers began approximately 20 years ago for a stated purpose. We were, at that time, very conscious of the quandary of the child analyst who, faced with the whole complex fabric of the developing child's psychic life, is unable to isolate any single determining element sufficiently to study its specific impact on normal growth. We turned, as a proposed remedy, to the clinical example of children who, by the action of fate, are deprived of some single, vital factor, such as constitutionally of the full use of their sensory apparatus or, environmentally, of the presence of one or more caring adults. The very absence of such a significant variable would, we hoped, highlight its specific contribution to development under normal conditions.

In the case of children born blind, or losing part or the whole of vision in the first years of life, this led to pinpointing the role played by sight in certain important developmental respects: the unfolding of the mother-child relationship; turning the infant's libidinal interest increasingly from his own body and self to animate and inanimate objects in the external world; the developing ego functions of grasping and orientation in space; the laying down of the memory traces which build up the child's representational world; and the processes of imitation and identification which lead toward the normal construction of a superego.

As the four papers in this section demonstrate, our interest soon went beyond this original topic of the role of vision in the sighted and turned to the blind child's alternate means of achieving personality

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Director, Hampstead Child-Therapy Clinic, London.

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