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Bornstein, B. (1935). Phobia in a Two-And-A-Half Year Old Child. Psychoanal Q., 4:93-119.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:93-119

Phobia in a Two-And-A-Half Year Old Child

Berta Bornstein

Little Lisa was two years and four months old when she developed severe symptoms of anxiety. Up to this time she had been normal. The anxiety came on in the evening at bedtime, and became so intense that she would cry for hours and could be put to sleep only with the help of sedatives. Night after night she stood in the corner of her bed, anxious and trembling with excitement, repeating the same words, "No, Mama, no", hoping with this to persuade her mother not to leave her bedside. When she finally fell asleep, due to the drugs, it was always in a sitting position with clenched fists and a tense facial expression. In the morning she was still to be found in this most unusual position for a sleeping child. The pillows, which were placed in her bed with the hope that she would finally fall over in her sleep, remained untouched. It became evident that the child's main anxiety had some relation to her lying down, and that she stayed awake for fear of lying down.

By day this previously cheerful child was cross and had no appetite. She became increasingly apathetic and expressed only one wish—to sit on her mother's lap. This condition had lasted about ten days when I became acquainted with her. On her intelligent face one could read how greatly she was suffering. She was an unusually well cared for child; her general physical condition was good. She was exceptionally alert and independent and very dexterous with her hands. In her speech, on the other hand, she appeared somewhat retarded; she still spoke of herself in the third person and was not yet able to form sentences; but with the aid of a little baby-talk she made herself well understood in her environment, where everybody was completely at her service.

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