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Olden, C. (1946). Headline Intelligence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:263-269.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:263-269

Headline Intelligence

Christine Olden

There are people who when we first meet them, appear to be interested, well-educated and well-informed. At closer acquaintance we find that their information is very superficial and that they do not feel inclined to learn more about any subject.

Intellectual inhibition has been very thoroughly discussed in psychoanalytic literature and the following remarks are not meant to contribute anything new to the question of causality or etiology of this neurotic disturbance. We shall only deal with one type of intellectual disturbance, stressing one kind of pathological solution of the male castration complex.

The main characteristics of this disturbance are: gathering catchwords or headlines in one dashing glance; a certain ability to combine the few and superficially collected bits; an ability to apply these pieces of knowledge in a skillful way so that they appear to be profundities. These people have the tendency to condone their own kind of intellectuality and furthermore to be proud of this specific technique of quick grasping and applying; they are incapable of thorough studying and learning in any one field. The symptom we are speaking of need not necessarily be obvious to the average individual, and under favorable conditions need not seriously interefere with the life of the person involved.

We had the opportunity to analyze this specific form of intellectual deficiency in three male patients, one man and two little boys in their latency periods. The case histories of these patients will be given only as far as they are related to the particular symptom mentioned above.

The adult came to analysis because of various character difficulties; Johnny, the eight-year-old, because of eating troubles and extreme anxieties; Charlie, the nine-year-old, came because of enuresis, stuttering and reading difficulties. In the first two cases the symptom of intellectual inhibition was more obscure than in Charlie's case. His difficulty had already assumed more concrete form.

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