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Burlingham, D. (1979). To be Blind in a Sighted World. Psychoanal. St. Child, 34:5-30.

(1979). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 34:5-30

To be Blind in a Sighted World

Dorothy Burlingham

OUR OBSERVATION OF BLIND INFANTS AND CHILDREN OVER A NUMBER of years has served a manifold purpose: to gain some idea how development proceeds without the assistance of sight; how the absence of vision influences the functions of the other senses; how the blind construct an image of the world which diverges from that of sighted people; and how at the same time they manage to adapt to their sighted environment.

The blind child's image of the world may be unique. It is certainly limited compared with that of sighted people. The important point is, however, that it reflects the blind child's specific needs and specific capabilities.

PRECURSORS

Divergencies from the sighted begin early in the infancy of the blind. The blind infant's isolation begins when his mother handles him according to her own, different, sensory equipment. The impossibility of eye-to-eye contact makes her feel a frustrating lack of rapport with the child. As a result, she may either withdraw from her infant, or initiate inappropriate stimulation to which the infant cannot respond.

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