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Bernstein, A.E. Blacher, R.S. (1967). The Recovery of a Memory from Three Months of Age. Psychoanal. St. Child, 22:156-161.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 22:156-161

The Recovery of a Memory from Three Months of Age

Anne E.H. Bernstein, M.D. and Richard S. Blacher, M.D.

The very young infant is generally considered to live in a rather amorphous undifferentiated state. Perceptions, sensations, and experiences are fleeting and not integrated; for this reason most authors assume that discrete memories from the earliest months are not recoverable as such but rather emerge as sensations of a more general type (Anthony, 1961); (Isakower, 1938); (Lewin, 1953).

Kris (1956) has pointed out that childhood experiences become layered with experiences and fantasies of later developmental periods and therefore are often not retrievable. If memories from an even earlier time, from the preverbal state, are registered, they would be even more difficult to recover. Indeed, most analysts would doubt their existence. Thus, in the case of the Wolf Man, Freud (1918), in dating the time of the traumatic primal scene to one and a half years, dismisses the possibility of the episode having occurred at six months as "scarcely tenable."

The following case report would seem to raise questions concerning the accuracy of some commonly held views on mentation in early infancy, especially on the laying down of precise and integrated memory traces. It is a report of a mother's observation of a two-year-old child's recollection of a traumatic episode that had occurred when the infant was three months of age.

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