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Fraiberg, S. Freedman, D.A. (1964). Studies in the Ego Development of the Congenitally Blind Child. Psychoanal. St. Child, 19:113-169.

(1964). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 19:113-169

Studies in the Ego Development of the Congenitally Blind Child

Selma Fraiberg and David A. Freedman, M.D.

Our interest in the process of ego formation in the congenitally blind infant originated in our first encounters with certain ego deviations found among blind children. We and other investigators were impressed by the high incidence of ego deviations encountered among children totally blind from birth and the clinical picture presented by such children which closely resembled autism in the sighted child. Since many children blind from birth may achieve a level of ego integration comparable to that of the sighted child we had to conclude that the absence of vision was not in itself the primary predisposing factor to deviant development. The deviant blind children showed a uniform developmental arrest and a freezing of personality on the level of mouth primacy and nondifferentiation. These and certain details in the retrospective histories suggested that the process of ego formation had been impeded during the critical period nine to eighteen months. The role of blindness as an impediment and the unique adaptational problems of the blind infant were yet to be understood.

In a review of twenty-eight blind children who constituted the first year's admissions to a guidance program inaugurated by the Family Service Society of New Orleans in 1959 we found seven cases in the age range three to thirteen who presented an extraordinary picture of developmental arrest.

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