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Fraiberg, S. (1968). Parallel and Divergent Patterns in Blind and Sighted Infants. Psychoanal. St. Child, 23:264-300.

(1968). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 23:264-300

Parallel and Divergent Patterns in Blind and Sighted Infants

Selma Fraiberg


The study of the ego as the agency of adaptation is approached in this investigation from the side of the biological equipment that serves the later ego organization and from the side of the human environment that must provide conditions for development and

organization of personality. The visual deficit in each of the children studied has created extraordinary adaptive problems in the areas of human relations, gross motor achievements, adaptive hand behavior, the construction of an object world, and the development of defensive action and defense mechanisms by the end of the second year of life. The adaptive problems appeared in each of the children studied, in a range of human environments that permitted some assessment of qualitative factors in mothering. It is not blindness alone that imperils the child's development, but the absence of vision as an organizer of experience, the absence of vision as the facilitator of gross motor achievements and prehension, the absence of vision in constructing a stable mental representation, and the obstacle to finding motor pathways for aggression that can lead to defense and neutralization of aggression in the service of the ego. The clinical examples of severe pathological regressions in five children show the helplessness of the blind child in the face of objective danger and the vulnerability of the blind child's ego for an extended period in early childhood.

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