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Rosen, V.H. (1955). Strephosymbolia: An Intrasystemic Disturbance of the Synthetic Function of the Ego. Psychoanal. St. Child, 10:83-99.

(1955). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 10:83-99

Strephosymbolia: An Intrasystemic Disturbance of the Synthetic Function of the Ego

Victor H. Rosen, M.D.


A case is presented involving the analysis of a young mathematician who suffers from a developmental dysgraphic and dyslexic defect or so-called "strephosymbolia." Evidence is presented to indicate that his writing errors arise from oscillations between attempts to reproduce words in phonetic fashion without regard to their visual appearance or alternatively in idiographic fashion without regard to the ordering of phonemes necessitated by the sound of the word. It is suggested that

phylogenetically his disturbance is similar to a transitional stage in the development of writing between idiographic forms and a syllabary alphabet with incomplete development of the concept of phonetic writing. It is suggested that the basic conflict in this case arises from the primal scene fantasy which associates father with visual activities, mother with auditory functions and which conceives of them as two separate unloving human beings who are incapable of producing a child except by artificial insemination. It is further suggested that secondary autonomy has been achieved in the visual and auditory perceptual functions of the ego when utilized separately, and that conflict invades these areas only in their synthetic function related to recognizing and evoking phonetic words and images. At this point their synthetic product becomes invested with primal scene significance. The genetic origin of the disability may be due to precocious maturation of certain ego sectors involved in visual and auditory perceptual processes so that they become involved in the oedipal conflict at a crucial stage in their development. Thus they are prevented in their synthetic relationship from forming a new, completely autonomous structure as they might have, had their maturation been somewhat delayed. An attempt is made to indicate the relationship between this disturbance of interperceptual synthesis and the enhancement of preconscious problem-solving operations in mathematics which utilize attenuated "unsolidified" images.

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