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Roos, A. (1959). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 28:578-579.

(1959). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 28:578-579

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Allan Roos

DISCUSSION: Dr. Robert C. Bak noted the close resemblance between the productions of adult schizophrenic patients and Dr. Mahler's case. He stated that patients with 'echo symptoms' (echolalia, echopraxia, and automatic obedience) resemble machines in their performance, acting mechanistically, and without human feelings. If there is anything characteristic of schizophrenic dreams, it is the representation of the body as a machine whose parts are concretely symbolized. Related to this symptomatology is a fear of loss of control of the ego's directive capacity. The sense of activity is disturbed especially as it involves the patient's own psychic functions which appear to be severed in adult schizophrenia and in many schizophrenic children.

Dr. Manuel Furer found the ideas presented by Elkisch and Mahler helpful in explaining the disparate phenomena seen in mute children, either primarily or secondarily autistic. He called attention to the fact that the 'influencing machine' acts in a delimited, stereotyped way. He found important the presence of a specific type of deanimation, a regressive phenomenon accompanying the dedifferentiation of the self and not-self. Mothers of such children are often uncanny in their sensitivity to the machinelike phenomena. He characterized this as a 'signal-like relationship'.

Dr. Max M. Schur stressed the importance of the transition from passivity to activity as essential to structure formation and ego autonomy. The case presented displays a complete passivity toward the drive which the child frantically tries to turn on and off, operating by a complete elimination of percepts.

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