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Weiss, S. (1995). On the Resistance to Child Analysis: Problems of the Parent and the Analyst. Ann. Psychoanal., 23:79-91.

(1995). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 23:79-91

On the Resistance to Child Analysis: Problems of the Parent and the Analyst

Samuel Weiss, M.D.

As a child analyst and as a supervisor in child analysis and child psychiatry I have had an opportunity, over many years, to witness what I consider a ubiquitous phenomenon. Parents bring their children for help and most of the time deny them that help. These are children who are in need of help, sometimes desperately so. Although many of these parents come as a result of the pressures or recommendations of outside sources, like schools, other physicians, or clinics, many times it is the parents themselves who express concern about their children and are thus self-referred. Yet, when it comes to the actual recommendation for treatment, they balk. These same adults often do not hesitate to get help for themselves. But they find excuses to back away from treatment for their children.

A 12-year-old girl was referred because she had a learning disability problem, asthma, low self-esteem, and her spirit had dried up, the parents said. If I were pretty, she had said, the boys would like me. She actually was pretty. But she was cautious, and she gave up too easily on her interests, like dance, piano, and Sunday school. Her father, who was the motive force in bringing her, seemed to suffer her pain, he was so tuned in to her. But when it came time to follow through on the child analyst's recommendation for treatment, he balked and said that he had been in treatment for the past 15 years and it had not helped him. His own analyst continued to encourage him to get help for the girl, since the father kept on reporting to him on how poorly she was doing. But after several years, nothing had been done.

An 11 1/2-year-old boy was brought by his parents because he had become physically aggressive, a bully. Schoolmates were afraid of him. He had a learning disability problem and an exotic but not life-threatening genetic disorder. He was interested in children who were ill and was afraid he would die young.

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