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October 1962

Origins of Psychosomatic and Emotional Disturbances: A Study of Mother-Child Relationships.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1962;7(4):308-309. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1962.01720040074010

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The authors derived their hypothesis from psychoanalytic theory and asked whether faulty maternal care in early infancy might be a common denominator in all psychosomatic disorders.


More explicitly, they investigated the mother-child relationship in 4 groups of children—those with neurotic, psychosomatic, borderline psychotic, and medical illnesses. Information came from interviews with the child and his mother, an analysis of their inaction observed in a one-way vision room, and the evaluation of special thematic apperception tests.

The hypothesis was confirmed. In brief, mothers of the children with psychosomatic disease appeared to derive little pleasure from their child. The relationship was usually stifling and mutually ungratifying. An interesting finding was the neglectful and rejecting behavior of the mothers of borderline psychotic children—one quite different from the mothers of the psychosomatic group. As one might anticipate, since each category of illness was broad, there was considerable overlap between experimental

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