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Crocker, D. (1963). Psychoanalytic Considerations Concerning the Development of Language in Early Childhood. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 11:143-150.

(1963). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11:143-150

Psychoanalytic Considerations Concerning the Development of Language in Early Childhood

David Crocker, M.D.

Rudolf Ekstein introduced the panel with the story of a six-year-old who, when meeting up with the happy surprise of his mother over his talking, said he hadn't ever talked before because he didn't need to. The implication was that language is the mediator of the ego in the mastery of reality, and that the regressive language of dreams, illustrated by a quotation from Freud's article on "The Antithetical Sense of Primary Words" (1910), could be understood better if we knew the primordia out of which the development of language took place, and their place in the representation of wish fulfillment. Although the main tool of analysis is the putting into words of unconsciously determined communications, it is surprising how little has been written from an analytic point of view about the function of communication and its development. This was the first panel to be devoted to it.

The aim of the panel was to include papers covering all general aspects of the problem, theoretical, the contributions of direct child observation, and examples taken from clinical observations. (What was missing were the observations of child analysts through analytic material, or analytic observations of mothers on their child, and the impact of this on the development of the dialogue which Spitz illustrated so eloquently from direct observations.)

In his paper, "Historical Notes Concerning Psychoanalysis and Early Language Development, " Ekstein discussed Freud's preanalytic writing, particularly his book On Aphasia (1891), as the origin of his views on the psychic development of speech. He referred to Freud's concept of retrogression (with which Hughlings Jackson had impressed him), and which was the forerunner of regression, applying it to what he conceived of as essentially functional disturbances in aphasia (though based on organic damage). Although Freud opposed the inclusion of his preanalytic writings with his psychological work, others have since felt that they represent the nuclei of his later work, and form a continuum with them.

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