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Cramer, B. (1975). Outstanding Developmental Progression in Three Boys—A Longitudinal Study. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:15-48.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:15-48

Outstanding Developmental Progression in Three Boys—A Longitudinal Study

B. Cramer, M.D.


In a longitudinal study of forty-five children, three boys showed continuous, unusually vigorous, developmental progression and relative lack of symptomatology. These boys had several characteristics that could account for this particular development. Regressions generally were controlled owing to the maintenance of autonomous functioning of crucial ego functions: verbalization, cognitive mastery, reality testing, containment of fantasies, self-observation. Regressions, acting like a catalyst, were often followed by marked progressive gains with new acquisitions. Identification played a central role in pulling these children out of regressions. These boys had a basic active and alloplastic orientation. Their defenses also served adaptive purposes to a high degree. The maintenance of secondary autonomy of functions allowed for an "optimal distance from conflicts." Good performance and mature behavior were the object of particular narcissistic investments, corresponding to the parents'—and our civilization's—ego ideal. These children's particularly outstanding characteristics in terms of developmental progression and ego functioning were also discussed in terms of their possible correlation with the development of narcissistic character traits.

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