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Bowlby, J. Robertson, J. Rosenbluth, D. (1952). A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital. Psychoanal. St. Child, 7:82-94.

(1952). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 7:82-94

A Two-Year-Old Goes to Hospital

John Bowlby, James Robertson and Dina Rosenbluth


Originally the separation research was concerned to test the hypothesis that separation experiences are pathogenic, but once the literature had been thoroughly surveyed (Bowlby, 1951) it became clear that this hypothesis is well supported by evidence, and the team is now planning to concentrate on understanding the psychological processes which lead to the grave personality disturbances—severe anxiety conditions and psychopathic personality—which we now know sometime follow experiences of separation. To achieve this understanding we intend to make detailed records of how very young children respond to the experience of being separated from their mothers. This study was made last August as an experiment in developing techniques of observation and recording.

Laura, the subject of the film, is a child of two years and five months, with, in general, happy relations with both her parents. In emotional development she is advanced for her years and developmentally she falls at the top end of the age group in which we are interested. Although her responses to the experience of separation contain much that we believe to be typical of the age span eighteen to thirty-six months, her expression of feeling is far more controlled than is usual. In discussing her responses we shall dwell on those which we believe to be common to this group of children and will not discuss the personal circumstances of this

1 Paper read by Dr.

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