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Rycroft, C. (1962). An Observation on the Defensive Function of Schizophrenic Thinking and Delusion-Formation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:32-39.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:32-39

An Observation on the Defensive Function of Schizophrenic Thinking and Delusion-Formation

Charles Rycroft


The material to be presented in this paper is derived from an analysis which ended with the committal of the patient to a mental hospital, where he was diagnosed schizophrenic. As many analysts would never have started with such a patient, while others would have adopted some modification of technique, probably including management and control of the patient's environment, I must begin by mentioning a number of facts which will, I hope, make it comprehensible that such a patient should have been in analysis and prevent my listeners being distracted from my main theme, which is theoretical, by queries about technique and doubts whether I knew what kind of patient I had on my hands. The relevant facts are, briefly:

i. The analysis was undertaken on the initiative of the patient's father, who was well aware both that his son had a psychotic illness and that psycho-analysis is a form of treatment designed for neurotic disorders. He knew therefore that his son's treatment was experimental and that he could be given no assurance of a cure.

ii. Prior to coming to me the patient had not only had E.C.T. and Insulin therapy, but had also been in psychotherapy with a therapist who had actively encouraged him to lead a less secluded life; this had been without much effect.

iii. Although the material which I shall present stresses the patient's extreme isolation and shows him to have been incapable of functioning for any length of time as an autonomous adult, he remained throughout capable of some independent activity.

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