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CHAPTER TEN The treatment and development of children with cerebral palsy

Romana Negri Harris Meltzer Trust PDF


The treatment and development of children with cerebral palsy


n a work devoted to trauma due to physical handicap in children, Shirley Hoxter (1986) clearly explains the development possibilities of children affected by cerebral palsy.

She states it in a very simple sentence: “The child who is affected by a physical handicap from its birth, starts life with parents being shocked by its condition, and goes on growing up in a society which also is shocked by its existence.” This sentence highlights the three protagonists whose role is fundamental in the child’s emotional, relational, and cognitive development

– namely, the child, the parents, and the society (represented generally by the health carers).

The child

As already stated at the beginning of this book, the literature illustrates how the child’s existential condition during its early life depends strictly on the functioning of its relationship with its mother, where the primitive interacting processes play an essential role in its further development. And it is clear that a


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22 Mattie’s legacy

Maria Rhode Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Asha Phillips

One of the remarkable influences Mattie had on so many is that learning from her occurred in a very organic way. The French word for training is “formation”, that which forms you. It is hard to say specifically what she taught; you just know that she helped to shape you. I believe this is what Bion (1962) referred to as learning from experience rather than learning about. Mattie taught so that you learned from the process, from how she addressed you and how she thought and spoke about the material, as much as from what she said.

I always associate Mattie with development, with things that grow. You could present her with the most depressing cases. Where others saw a derelict emotional landscape, pathology and despair, Mattie somehow spotted the one tiny green shoot in the desert that showed that internal life had a chance, often in dire external circumstances. She once gave me some gladioli bulbs from her garden and I remember lifting them carefully to transplant whenever I moved house. For me they symbolized her legacy, as one of her students, to see potential development and help children grow. The other noticeable aspect of being one of Mattie’s students, in great contrast to the world of child psychotherapy training today, was how informal and personal the whole process was.

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Martha Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

Friendships at this age are often intense, often stormy, and sometimes very short-lived. The best friend of today can be F the worst enemy of tomorrow. It may even be that last week's friendship is re-established as though the quarrel had never been. The intensity of emotional involvement is, on the whole, a more obvious characteristic of friendship between girls than between boys, who perhaps tend to go on a little longer finding companionship in sharing activities than from the need to really get to know and become involved with one another. On the whole, society expects boys to be a little shyer of expressing tender feelings. But differences in expression of feeling between the two sexes may be more to do with differences in the way that they are expected to behave than in inborn differences. The differences in the way that girls and boys are expected to behave are very rapidly being blurred these days in many ways, as are their interests, clothing, and activities.

However, in the years of early adolescence boys and girls, though interested in each other and troubled by unfamiliar sexual urges, are not, on the whole, really interested in making love themselves. Unless overstimulated by competitiveness and group pressures, they tend to prefer to be lookers-on, watching films, reading pornographic literature, having daydreams, and so on, but they are afraid of coming too close to another of the opposite sex. It is fashionable, of course, in many circles to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend at this age; but this tends to be a matter of prestige, of aping your elders, a quick way of seeming to be grown up.

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21. “Permanent Revolution” of the Generations

Donald Meltzer Harris Meltzer Trust ePub

THE restless mind of the young Trotsky* caught a glimpse of the future of the Russian revolution and its predicament, that unless the new system could include as an institution the permanent urge to revolution it would relentlessly metamorphose into the monolithic state and betray its premises. In this paper I wish to demonstrate the sources of this urge to permanent revolution, to distinguish it from the impulse to rebellion, and to show its relation, in psychic reality, to the fact of the discontinuity in the generations and link to the barrier against incest which is fundamental to the human mind.

The basis for this discussion has been laid in the Chapters on “The Emergence from Adolescence” and “The Genesis of the Super-ego-ideal”. But let us start here with the concept, so important in the early days of psycho-analysis and so little mentioned now, the incest barrier or taboo. The latter term betrays the anthropological inspiration to Freud’s thinking and the way in which it was linked in his mind to the evolution of religion on the one hand, and the fate of the oedipus complex on the other. A more intimate understanding of the nature of childhood would incline us now to eliminate sibling relations from the concept of incest and limit it to the prohibition, the internal prohibition, against coitus of parent and child. This forms the background of the oedipus complex, resting as it does on the parent’s refusal of the child’s desire and the actual impotence of the child—the boy’s seminal sterility and the girl’s reproductive incapacity. We recognise the aim of the true genital trends in infantile sexuality to be a reproductive one primarily—to give and receive babies—rather than one of erogenous zone pleasure, as Freud earlier thought. It is the pregenital trends which, thanks to zonal and geographic confusions and distortions of identity due to projective identification, masquerade as genitality and carry the sensuous greed.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: The need for friends and for time to be alone

Martha Harris Harris Meltzer Trust ePub


This is, on the whole, still a time of conformity. Most eleven- year-olds are pleased to wear a school uniform, to look like T the rest of their class, to possess the outward signs of belonging to the same school. It is important to be accepted as one of the crowd, the class, the group. To belong to a group and to have a group identity is one of the ways of cushioning a disturbed composure. The child of this age who is in trouble at school, in a fight, or at odds with friends, will usually try not to run home to mummy and complain, but will fight it out with his companions and come to some understanding without grown-up arbitration.

The appearance of parents can sometimes be an embarrassment. Not untypical is eleven-year-old Barbara, looking with doubtful pleasure to her mother's appearance at Sports Day to watch her run in the finals of the hundred yards. She vets critically the clothes her mother is going to wear and says, “And if I do come in first, don't make a fool of yourself shouting and clapping and drawing everybody's attention to yourself.” The important thing is not to seem to be mollycoddled, not to be a baby.

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