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Jarvis, V. (1969). Learning Disability and its Relationship to Normal Fantasy Formation. Psychoanal. Rev., 56B(2):288-298.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56B(2):288-298

Learning Disability and its Relationship to Normal Fantasy Formation

Vivian Jarvis

The learning process is developmental; children learn first by pleasure-directed, primary-process modes of mental activity to regulate tension levels. Only gradually and never completely do these give way to the reality-directed, adaptive, secondary process. Learning will be influenced by the libidinal phases as well as those defenses used to cope with phase-specific impulses. It will show the effects of growth from narcissism and omnipotence of thought in the undifferentiated world of the young infant to the relinquishment of narcissism in the symbiotic period and on to an everlasting attempt, via the ego ideal, to regain some of this narcissism with the establishment of object relationships.

As therapists we are particularly sensitive to the degree of secondary autonomy established in the learning process and also to its degree of susceptibility to developmental or environmental crises. Very good marks in grade school may not be reliable indications of successful future learning. We need other standards of measurement so that we can know whether the learning function itself has become part of oral fantasy, or whether the content of the learning—the subject matter—becomes involved with unconscious fantasy, leading to avoidance of certain subjects or failure in mastering them.

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