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Fordham, F. (1964). The Care of Regressed Patients and the Child Archetype. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(1):61-73.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(1):61-73

The Care of Regressed Patients and the Child Archetype

Frieda Fordham


AMONG THOSE people seeking psychological help there are two distinct types who are in need of analysis of infancy if a secure benefit from treatment is to be obtained. The patients of one class are obviously dependent and have blatantly failed to free themselves from their families, or to succeed in work, or marriage, or any relationship with the opposite sex; the others are apparently well adapted and successful, and come to analysis for vague or confused reasons rather than definite symptoms, but are usually somewhat depressed. They are in middle life and look like classical individuation cases, but I have not found it possible to treat these patients without taking seriously the mass of infantile material which they presented to me and which in fact broke through what proved to be a façade, or an overdeveloped persona. This is the kind of patient of whom I shall have most to say.

Jung mentions this type of case in his discussion of the child archetype where he says (1951, p. 180): We meet the child archetype in spontaneous and therapeutically induced individuation processes; he points out that it appears in people where (ibid., p. 162) “… a man's present state may have come into conflict with his childhood state” or where “… he may have violently sundered himself from his original character in the interests of some arbitrary persona.…” Though “… the ‘child’ paves the way for a future change of personality” (ibid., p. 164) at first “… the patient identifies himself with his personal infantilism” (ibid., p. 180). In my cases the “personal infantilism” included infancy, and the experiences prior to twelve months were found to have been the most significant.

There are many correspondences to be found in the manifestations of the child archetype as conveyed in myths and the actual material produced by these regressed patients in analysis, but here I shall concentrate on one salient feature, namely the theme of abandonment.

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