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Sterba, E. (1936). An Abnormal Child. Psychoanal Q., 5:375-414.

(1936). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 5:375-414

An Abnormal Child

Editha Sterba

The reporting of the analysis of a child does not as a rule offer the same difficulties as that of an adult because the analytical material is easier to sort out, the connections are easier to perceive, and one may far more easily take in at a glance the child's career, its experiences, and the influences to which it has been exposed. In addition, it is not necessary for reasons of discretion to distort the subject matter, or to make important omissions, as is the case with adults. These differences, however, do not apply wholly to the case to be described, because of the type of personality of the young patient and the form which his illness took. The fact that such a case is to be described in all its complexities also increases the difficulties for both author and reader. The type of illness of the patient, together with his odd personality, which is scarcely to be separated from his illness, distinguish the case decisively from all other cases of neurosis in children which have hitherto been described in the literature.

The report of this illness covers a period of more than two years of treatment, and the very plethora of the material which was produced necessitates the abandonment of a purely chronological description of the events. The following account includes, in addition to the history, a description of the chief symptoms, their analytic solution, and an account of certain parts of the treatment which yield the clearest understanding of the structure of the pathology. The report of the case is based exclusively on the author's notes, supplemented by the detailed observations of two analytically trained kindergarten teachers. Statements of the parents have been used only to obtain information about the earliest period of the child's life, and for the most part permit exact corroboration. Of the technique of treatment in this case, which departs in certain respects from that which is usual in the analysis of neurotic children, an account will be given at the end.

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