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Edwards, M. (1967). Libidinal Phases in the Analytic Treatment of a Preschool Child. Psychoanal. St. Child, 22:199-215.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 22:199-215

Libidinal Phases in the Analytic Treatment of a Preschool Child

Marie Edwards, M.S.

Ellen was referred to the Child Development Center by her family physician who felt that she could benefit from a therapeutic nursery. Her parents had had difficulties for some time and finally separated about four months before referral when Ellen was just under three years of age.


Presenting Symptoms

Ellen began having nightmares just before the parent's separation. During these, she would cry out, "Don't do it—don't hit me." She feared loud noises such as thunder, a doorbell or parades. After the previous Christmas when her nurse had taken her to a Catholic church, she developed a fear of the crucifix. She called the crucifix "the man with the boo-boo," referring to the wounds in the hands of Jesus, and would ask, "When is he coming? Can he hurt me?" Seemingly in an attempt to master her anxiety, whenever she was in a stationery store, she would seek out the religious cards in order to look at the crucifix.

Ellen was extremely jealous of her younger sister, Jane, who was born when Ellen was twenty months old. At the same time Ellen showed clear signs of guilt in relation to Jane.

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