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Székely, L. (1962). The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:253.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:253

The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion Related Papers

Lajos Székely


I should like to present a few clinical remarks on Greenacre's paper. In it she stressed certain biological trends in development, particularly a cephalocaudal direction of development. Therefore, the sensorium has certain developmental differentiations earlier than the motorium. If we think of the pre-adaptation to a probably average surrounding world, in the sense of Hartmann, we understand more of the initial state of danger to life for the child and the archaic fears, which have already been mentioned by Garma. Dangerous stimuli are registered so early that the motor apparatus is not mature enough to take up any kind of defence, or even to attempt to do so. The mother-child relationship here constitutes an enormous protection, and on this point I should like to bring you some clinical examples. Greenacre has written of a special trait of artistically gifted people, namely a particularly premature and early differentiation of the sensory apparatus. I have had two patients in whom this was specially apparent. They were people with premature differentiation of the sensory apparatus and with artistic ability which, however, they were unable to use; they had not become artists despite their passionate desire to make a mark on the world of art. Both were very disturbed people and victims of panic-fear. In one case the symptom was fear, panic-fear, of seeing anything actively and of perceiving it; and also of being passively seen by others.

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