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Neubauer, P.B. (1960). The One-Parent Child and his Oedipal Development. Psychoanal. St. Child, 15:286-309.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 15:286-309

The One-Parent Child and his Oedipal Development

Peter B. Neubauer, M.D.

Over the years, we have been able to study children at the Child Development Center, who, throughout their early development, or for a prolonged part of it, have been deprived of either their mother or father. Their cases present a chance for the analytic study of "experiments provided by fate" (A. Freud and Dann, 1951).

We have had the opportunity to observe in four such children the effects which the absence of one parent had on the vicissitudes of oedipal development. These observations permit us to test the degree to which the physical and emotional presence of both parents is essential for the solution of the oedipal conflict. This, then, is a study of environmental deficiency coordinated to a specific developmental phase.

Reviewing the literature on children who grew up with only one parent, we find that attention has been paid mainly to the preoedipal period, and recently more to the first year of life, particularly to the absence of mothering in the need-satisfying phase and its effect on further development. These studies of maternal deprivation, as summarized by Bowlby (1951) and by Glaser and Eisenberg (1956), demonstrate the inexorability with which the infant requires need satisfaction through one consistent, empathetic mother; if the infant's needs are not fulfilled, e.g., through separation from the mother in the first year of life, his future may be threatened by vegetative dysfunction, and disturbance in object relations and ego structure.

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