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Graber, G.H. (1935). Primal Scene, Play, and Destiny. Psychoanal Q., 4:467-475.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:467-475

Primal Scene, Play, and Destiny Language Translation

Gustav Hans Graber

Present day psychology tells us that the play of children is a cover for the serious things of life, but psychology does very little by way of uncovering the secret meaning of this first encounter between the child and the world. For this we need a genetic point of view, which takes into account unconscious strivings and unconscious mental processes. Psychoanalysis has attempted not alone to interpret the meaning of play as such but also to deduce from a uniform, repeated game the mental structure, dynamics, and economics of the child's mind. It has found that in play not only are simple wishes gratified, but conflicts too are averted, old traumata are repetitively reactivated, and intrapsychic mechanisms such as regression, reaction-formation, identification, introjection, projection, and the rest become manifest as overt behavior. A children's game completely understood, like a completely analyzed dream, could tell us much concerning the destiny of a human being. The following material, taken from the successful analysis of a thirty-year-old woman, will be used to show certain relationships that obtain between an early infantile trauma (the primal scene), games, and later destiny.

The patient, whom we shall call Julia, had been one of those children who do not play with others, who have an impulse to play only when they believe themselves alone and unobserved, and who in addition cannot bear to see others play. She was a frank spoil-sport, who frantically interfered and interrupted and who was as if compelled to disturb any companionship. The child of wealthy parents, born after the death of a sister, she had been spoiled thoroughly by parents, relatives and servants. She slept in her parents' bedroom, and would cry half the night or all night, so that her parents alternately took her up and walked about, or took her into their bed for fear that she would choke.

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