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Freudenberger, H.J. Overby, A. (1969). Patients from an Emotionally Deprived Environment. Psychoanal. Rev., 56B(2):299-312.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56B(2):299-312

Patients from an Emotionally Deprived Environment

Herbert J. Freudenberger, Ph.D. and Annette Overby, M.S.S., A.C.S.W.


Every practice has patients in its roster who early in life have suffered severe emotional deprivations. The group we are considering in this paper is comprised of those who have experienced insufficient mothering in their earliest years. As early as at three months of age the infant turns to the one who takes care of him for evidence of love and affection—in short, for a social relation. This experience is for the child the beginning of an object relation as well as the beginning of separation from his symbiotic tie to his mother. The child now senses himself dimly as an “I” or “me” and the mother as a “thou.” From her as well as from others (for the father and other family members have now entered this picture) he now asks acceptance, love, interest, playfulness and companionship.

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