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Bornstein, B. (1946). Hysterical Twilight States in an Eight-Year-Old Child. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:229-240.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:229-240

Hysterical Twilight States in an Eight-Year-Old Child

Berta Bornstein

The following case of an eight-year-old girl who suffered from twilight states demonstrates with special clarity the meaning of the infantile sexual trauma, the fixation to the oedipal conflicts, and as far as our material permits, some of the pre-oedipal problems.

Sonja began her analysis at the age of eight years. The first attack had occurred at the age of six; several attacks, varying in length of time from half an hour to two days, followed. In such states the child usually would leave the house, beckon men who were driving by in cars and, in a very coquettish manner, would ask for a ride. If her mother prevented her from leaving the house, she would become hostile, threaten her with a knife and eventually turn it against herself. She responded when she was called by name, and recognized everybody but her father. When the attack subsided, she whined and whimpered, clung affectionately to her mother, and pleaded for protection. Afterwards she showed complete amnesia for these events.

In her normal state she seemed well adjusted, though somewhat shy and subdued. She was intelligent, loved school and could not understand why she should be prevented from attendance, as had been advised previously.

The mother was uneducated but lively and intelligent, and Sonja resembled her in many ways. The father was a hard-working small businessman with the grandeur of a Southeastern squire. Amused by Sonja's coquettish and courting manner, he used to praise her beautiful eyes, and once had promised her a career as a movie actress.

The girl's early childhood was described by the mother as easy and uneventful, her relationship to both of her parents as close. A second girl was born when Sonja was four years old.

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