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Bergman, A. Schwartzman, M. Sloate, P. Wilson, A. (1983). The Oral Deadlock: Treatment of a Psychotic Child. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 31:443-465.

(1983). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 31:443-465

The Oral Deadlock: Treatment of a Psychotic Child

Anni Bergman, Ph.D., Michael Schwartzman, Ph.D., Phyllis Sloate, Ph.D. and Arnold Wilson, Ph.D.

IN THIS PAPER WE SHALL DESCRIBE A critical period in the therapy of a psychotic child. The treatment was psychoanalytically informed. Psychoanalysis would not have been appropriate as a treatment technique in a child as seriously disturbed as the one we are about to describe. We feel, however, that valuable psychoanalytic insights could be gained by studying the interaction of a psychotic mother-child pair and by describing how treatment helped the child to free himself from a pathological symbiotic relationship with his mother.

This child was being seen in a university-based treatment center for emotionally disturbed children. The treatment design employs three modalities: (1) psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy which uses a tripartite approach, i.e.,

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