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Ames, T.H. (1913). Blindness as a Wish. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(1):55-62.

(1913). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(1):55-62

Blindness as a Wish

Thaddeus Hoyt Ames, A.B., M.D.

A healthy man awoke blind on July 24, 1912. He had slept well but insisted that it was still dark and that it was not time to get up. He had had no previous trouble with his eyes, had worked as usual the day before; and he had absolutely no physical symptoms before, at the time of, or after the blindness to account for it. He was thirty-nine years of age and always in the best of health; his heredity was good, he had had no previous illness, and denied syphilis. For fourteen years he had worked in a factory without missing a day, he did not know of any other person there who ever had any similar trouble; and nothing in the nature of his work could be held responsible for his symptom.

During the ten weeks from July 24 to October 4, repeated examinations failed to show any lesions in any part of the body. Drs. Mittendorf and Holden pronounced the fundi and pupils normal; there was slight perception of light but no perception of objects.

At the Neurological Institute, on the service of the Third Division, on October 4, physical examination failed to show any lesions of the nervous system. The Wassermann tests of both blood and spinal fluid were negative, and there was no increase in the number of cells in the spinal fluid. Tests for vision showed a distinction of light from darkness but no vision of objects. He was led about by the arm and did not feed himself.

Since no physical abnormalities were found, and since no disease is known which can produce a sudden blindness in both eyes without other symptoms and some demonstrable physical condition, this blindness was considered to be either feigned or hysterical.

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