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Moses, R.H. Moses, R. (1986). Steps in Self Development. Psychoanal. St. Child, 41:491-513.
    

(1986). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 41:491-513

Steps in Self Development

Rena Hrushovski Moses, Ph.D. and Rafael Moses, M.D.

SYLIA WAS 7 YEARS OLD WHEN I (THE THERAPIST) FIRST MET HER IN Haifa. She had lived in an alien world from the very beginning of her life. At age 3 weeks she had arrived at the children's home—one of hundreds of babies. She stayed there for 4 years. Reports from the home indicate that she had an especially retarded development in all areas. Physically, she was very small and skinny. Mentally, her understanding was quite limited, as was her ability to express herself. Emotionally, she lived in isolation, refusing to play with other children. She would move her body rhythmically, especially before falling asleep. She took every opportunity to carry away whatever happened to come into her hands. She would hide whatever she could in her pockets. She was afraid of heights: when she was lifted up, she would scream in terror. She was also afraid of people, of buses, of activities. Toward the end of her stay in the children's home, she began to show more interest in her surroundings and started to talk more fluently.

Her mother was said to have suffered from epilepsy and a paralyzed leg. Two operations were said to have stopped her fits, but the paralysis remained. She walked with a limp. The social worker at that time described her as a rigid character, given to emotional outbursts and strange behavior. She had shown no interest in Sylia since her birth.

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