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Scharl, A.E. (1961). Regression and Restitution in Object Loss—Clinical Observations. Psychoanal. St. Child, 16:471-480.

(1961). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 16:471-480

Regression and Restitution in Object Loss—Clinical Observations

Adele E. Scharl, M.D.

In the past ten years there has been an increasing interest in the effects of real trauma on the normal psychological development of children. Among such traumata, object loss is particularly crucial because of its special influence upon the development of object relationships and the child's subsequent defenses.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to study two young girls who had suffered a series of important object losses. In this paper I shall attempt to show how the loss of their father affected these sisters, and how their previous development and the nature of their object relationships led them to react to the same loss in quite different ways. The two girls, aged eight and five respectively, witnessed their father's violent death by decapitation in an automobile accident.

The two sisters were quite different, and so was their relationship with father before his death. The younger child, Nancy, was pretty, charming, and father's favorite. She was skilled at eliciting admiration from people around her. Her relationship to father was a narcissistic one in which to be admired and loved seemed to be her principal wish. She achieved much pleasure from the fact that she succeeded in her aim to charm and please. The older sister, Linda, on the other hand, seemed unable or unwilling to compete with Nancy in her seductive relationship to father.

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