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Blank, H.R. (1954). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 23:312-314.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:312-314

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

H. Robert Blank

November 24, 1953. LOSS AND RESTITUTION. Gregory Rochlin, M.D.

Dr. Rochiln reports the study of a four-year-old boy who was separated a long time from his mother. Treatment was begun shortly after he had been expelled from nursery school because of impulsive and unprovoked attacks upon other children. He was content only when allowed to sit alone in a closet with a fur coat and rub his cheek with it for hours, a habit he had established at home when he was two years old. He did not play with toys, but threw them about, and was destructive of wallpaper and plaster. He began to talk at three, rarely spoke, avoided using personal pronouns, and referred to himself in the third person. The mother was an intelligent woman, hysterical and masochistic, completely frustrated by the child and unable to cope with his destructiveness. Sam was born uneventfully, successfully breast fed until he was four months old when his mother learned of the father's infidelity during his business travels. Subsequently she left Sam frequently for three or four days at a time to be with her husband. The child received excellent physical attention, chiefly from maids in the grandmother's home, but nothing in the nature of mothering. When he began to suck his fingers actively at five months, his grandmother had his hands tied. He reacted to this complacently. From eighteen months to three years of age, Sam was with his parents traveling abroad, his mother frequently leaving him with servants who did not speak English while she kept an eye on the father. While drunk, the father frequently attacked the mother, and also the child because he seemed unresponsive. Sam provided little trouble and seemed placidly amenable to the changes in physical and personal environment. The mother returned with Sam to the grandmother's home when she found herself pregnant; subsequently she divorced the father. A healthy girl was born and several months later Sam was placed in nursery school where the disturbances of his behavior became apparent. Rochlin initially observed that the boy sat upon his mother's lap as though she were an inanimate object. At first he could elicit no response from the child. The first response after many trials and several visits was to pick up clay balls the analyst rolled over to him. After several weeks Sam showed the persistent wish to get into a dark closet and stay there alone.

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