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Freud, A. (1946). The Psychoanalytic Study of Infantile Feeding Disturbances. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:119-132.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:119-132

II. Clinical Problems

The Psychoanalytic Study of Infantile Feeding Disturbances

Anna Freud

In the psychoanalytic study of children interest frequently has been concentrated on one or the other of the feeding problems of infancy and childhood. The first disorders of this kind to attract the attention of analytic authors were the upsets of feeding after weaning (Freud, Abraham (1), Bernfeld (3). These were investigated in the beginning indirectly, through the after-effects for the individual's emotional life as they showed up under analytic treatment in adulthood; later on directly, during the observation and treatment of young children. Other feeding problems gradually came into the field of analytic vision. Endre Petö (14) devoted a paper to the emotional attitude of the mother, as an important factor for the success of breast-feeding. Merrel P. Middlemore (12) made a systematic study of the "suckling situation" between mother and newborn infant, and interpreted some of her findings in the light of Melanie Klein's theories of the conflicts of the oral phase. Edith Jackson (10) and G. J. Mohr (13) stressed the importance of emotional factors in nutrition work with infants and children. Editha Sterba (16) drew attention to the interrelations between habit training and feeding disorders; Otto Fenichel (7), James Strachey (17), Melitta Schmideberg (15) and others, to the connection between feeding inhibitions and inhibitions of intellectual activities. Emmy Sylvester (18) in a recently published case of psychogenic anorexia traced the influence of the mother-child relationship on the origin and course of the disturbance. Refusal of food owing to the repression of oral sadism and oral introjection has played a large part in the psychoanalytic theory of depressive states and melancholia (see Freud (8), Abraham (2), Melanie Klein (11)).

Psychoanalytic studies of this kind have been instrumental in shedding light on the origin and meaning of specific feeding disorders, especially of the graver types and those which occur as single symptoms within the framework of a neurotic illness. Less notice was taken of the common feeding difficulties which occur in the everyday life of otherwise normal children.

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