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Hall, J.W. (1946). The Analysis of a Case of Night Terror. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:189-227.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:189-227

The Analysis of a Case of Night Terror

Jenny Waelder Hall, M.D.

This paper was originally read, in a longer form, at a meeting of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1930. It was the first case of a child analysis to be reported in detail, and it threw new light on the psychogenesis of pavor nocturnus.

It was first published in the Zeitschrift für psychoanalytische Pädagogik, as "Analyse eines Falles von Pavor Nocturnus", in 1935. We feel it still valuable enough to reprint in translation here, not only for the benefit of English and American readers to whom the German language edition is inaccessible, but because it is outstanding among those few case histories of child analyses that have appeared in the literature.
—The Editors


Anton was seven years old when treatment began. He was a small, nice-looking boy, moderately well developed physically. At first he seemed shy and anxious, but it soon became clear that he could also be very lively, confiding, and talkative. When the mask of shyness was put aside a vivacious street-urchin appeared. Anton had a good intelligence and a ready wit. His success in school (first grade) was only fair, but this was due to laziness. The slum environment in which he lived gave him practically no intellectual stimulus. His chief interest was in mechanical things; and for a boy of his years he had a very good grasp of them.

For weeks the boy had complained of piercing heart pains which appeared suddenly and which were independent of physical exertion. Hospital examination was negative; and in view of the night terror the boy suffered, the hospital referred the case to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Clinic for psychotherapy.

Night terror had occurred for about a year, at irregular intervals. The mother could not supply definite information about the first appearance.

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