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Fraiberg, S. (1982). Pathological Defenses in Infancy. Psychoanal Q., 51:612-635.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 51:612-635

Pathological Defenses in Infancy

Selma Fraiberg


A group of pathological defenses has been observed in infants between three and eighteen months of age who have experienced danger and deprivation to an extreme degree. The early defenses, "avoidance," "freezing," and "fighting," are apparently summoned from a biological repertoire on the model of "flight or fight." Before there is an ego, pain can be transformed into pleasure or obliterated from consciousness while a symptom stands in place of the original conflict.

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