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Almond, B.R. (1990). The Secret Garden—A Therapeutic Metaphor. Psychoanal. St. Child, 45:477-494.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 45:477-494

The Secret Garden—A Therapeutic Metaphor

Barbara R. Almond, M.D.


This paper analyzes a work of children's literature, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, to demonstrate a therapeutic process. Two children are able to resume normal development, and overcome pathological character traits, through the agency of new object relationships, peer group experiences, and favorable environmental influences. As a result, both attain the skills and ego functions of normal latency and prepuberty. Elements of this therapeutic process that resembles the psychoanalytic encounter and the therapeutic treatment milieu are highlighted and discussed. The central role of transference, with its similarities and differences in both settings, is emphasized. Finally, the metaphoric meanings of "secret gardens" are explored and connected with the enormous appeal of this book for its prepubertal girl readers.

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