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B., D. (1922). Clinical: W. McDougall. Four Cases of 'Regression' in Soldiers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1920, Vol. XV, p. 136.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:347-348.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Clinical: W. McDougall. Four Cases of 'Regression' in Soldiers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1920, Vol. XV, p. 136.

(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:347-348

Clinical: W. McDougall. Four Cases of 'Regression' in Soldiers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1920, Vol. XV, p. 136.

D. B.

The writer points out that he is using the word 'regression' in a purely descriptive sense and does not mean to imply any theory of the process or condition. He details the histories and symptoms of four soldiers, who having suffered some trauma in the war had 'regressed' to an infantile stage of development. He suggests that this 'regression' is to be regarded as a biological rather than a specifically psychological process, and may be looked upon as the ultimate or extreme consequence of the instinctive shrinking of fear. He goes on to say, 'Fear is the great inhibitor, which determines shrinking, both bodily and mental, from all fear-exciting things and ultimately perhaps from all things. If the fear be sufficiently intense and sustained or renewed, we may imagine this inhibitory shrinking effect carried so far as to paralyse all the higher functions; and we may suppose that the vital or nervous energy, being withdrawn from those levels of the nervous system concerned in these higher functions, then revitalises older, more primitive, infantile levels of function, finding its outlet through nervous channels organized and active in infancy, but long disused.' It seems from this the author would have been more correct to have regarded the 'regression' as a purely physiological process, for he evidently wishes to conceive the word 'shrinking' in its sense of actual loss or getting materially less, than in its more figurative sense of withdrawal, in which sense it has been and is always used when applied to fear. If this concept of 'regression' in these cases were the correct one, it does not seem that the author need have any feeling of shame (page 156) in not restoring the patients to the normal condition by any form of treatment; for it is difficult to see how any form of treatment could be satisfactorily applied under such conditions.

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It would be of interest to the Freudians if the author (page 136) had given a specific instance where they say they use the words 'sex' and 'sexual' in a different sense from that which centuries of usage has attached to them. If the author is unable to do this then such a statement is the last thing one would have expected from a man of his standing and attainments. As a matter of fact the Freudians have always used the words 'sex' and 'sexual' in the sense that centuries of usage has attached to them, but on the other hand they have also enlarged the concept, and include the lesser in the greater.

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Article Citation

B., D. (1922). Clinical. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:347-348

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