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First, E. (1970). The First Year of Analysis of a Fatherless Boy. J. Child Psychother., 2(4):39-53.

(1970). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 2(4):39-53

The First Year of Analysis of a Fatherless Boy

Elsa First

This is a report on some clinical material from the first year of analysis of a fatherless five-year-old boy. While it presents only the first stage of an ongoing analysis, this material may be of interest for the views it afforded of the impact of having a dead father on the phallic-oedipal development of a five-year-old boy whom the analytic situation seemed to have helped towards a revival of abandoned phallic-oedipal strivings. Another interesting aspect of this case which can, I hope, be noted in this material, (though it was only to come into clearer focus later in the analysis)—is the disturbance in the capacity for object relationships in a child for whom all relationships are fraught with an unbearable degree of anticipation of object loss.

History and Background

Robert L. was five years four months old when he began analysis. He was seen on four consecutive days weekly, and his mother had fortnightly interviews with the therapist. Robert's analysis was undertaken in the setting of an outpatient children's clinic which had as the centre of its research, training, and service facilities a small Therapeutic Nursery School with separate classes for three, four and five year olds, of which Robert had been a member since joining the pre-nursery playgroup at age two-and-a-half. Robert thus entered analysis in an almost communal setting in which it was reassuringly ordinary to have a “special appointment lady”. And his therapist also had the benefit of abundant observational and diagnostic material from Robert's previous years in the Nursery as well as of ongoing communications with his teachers.

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