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Gabe, S. (1950). Psychosomatic Medicine. XI, 1949: Studies on Epilepsy: The Petit Mal Attack as a Response Within the Central Nervous System to Distress in Organism-Environment Integration. Wayne Barker. Pp. 73–94.. Psychoanal Q., 19:139-139.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychosomatic Medicine. XI, 1949: Studies on Epilepsy: The Petit Mal Attack as a Response Within the Central Nervous System to Distress in Organism-Environment Integration. Wayne Barker. Pp. 73–94.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:139-139

Psychosomatic Medicine. XI, 1949: Studies on Epilepsy: The Petit Mal Attack as a Response Within the Central Nervous System to Distress in Organism-Environment Integration. Wayne Barker. Pp. 73–94.

S. Gabe

In a careful, intensive study of a patient with typical petit mal, Barker demonstrates that the petit mal attack is a specific response to a situation of emotional stress. At first the situations in which attacks occurred were investigated by direct questioning but failed to reveal the dynamic connection between attack and situational context. Reconstruction by means of free association of the events immediately preceding loss of consciousness revealed intense emotional reactions hidden beneath the 'neutrality' of situations preceding the attack. These emotions were usually of an aggressive character and came into conflict with the patient's profound need for love. The origins of this emotional conflict were traced to disturbing childhood experiences and to parental ambivalence which created a desperate need for security and peace. Whenever the repressed emotions threatened to erupt into consciousness and endanger the patient's acceptable behavior pattern, the petit mal attack was resorted to. Petit mal attacks could be precipitated 'experimentally' in interviews by pressing on the patient an awareness of emotional reactions before she was ready to admit them to consciousness. Electroencephalographic observations revealed that characteristic spike-and-dome complexes accompanied attacks. When the petit mal attacks proved insufficient to stop the unacceptable emotions from invading consciousness, and psychomotor symptoms, narcoleptic sleep, major convulsions and other 'epileptic' symptoms were removed by analysis, 'hysterical' reliving of traumatic childhood experiences occurred. Barker concludes that 'the petit mal attack is a specific behavioral response in which the eruption of disturbing emotion into awareness is halted by an operation within the central nervous system, characterized electroencephalographically by the appearance of spike-and-dome waves, which interrupts organism-environment relationships'.

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Article Citation

Gabe, S. (1950). Psychosomatic Medicine. XI, 1949. Psychoanal. Q., 19:139-139

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