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Psycology » Psychiatry and psychotherapy » Neurosis: Part I » Factors influencing a child

Experiences of childhood

It is widely believed that childhood experiences play an important role in

development of the adult neurosis. But this is largely a speculative idea, since scientific evidence would be required to carry out the simultaneous study of a large number of people who have had a child by different life experiences, examining their original at an early age, and then to adulthood. However, follow-up studies of children, based on long-term follow them, although carried out (see Sec. 20), but did not include the collection of detailed information on the early experiences of the child needed to answer the question here. Due to the lack of appropriate longitudinal studies will further consider two related problems: the relationship of neurotic traits and neuroses of childhood neuroses in adulthood and psychoanalytic etiological theory.

Neurotic traits

The so-called neurotic traits are expressed in childhood thumb-sucking, nail biting, this also includes children's fears, strangeness against food, stuttering and bedwetting. None of these features in itself is not indicative of disease. The first four are usually transient in nature and are not essential for further development. Stuttering and bedwetting often last longer, but usually disappear as the child, and the few cases where these phenomena stubbornly cling to, no less likely than those with neurotic symptoms may be associated with childhood antisocial behavior (see: Rutter 1972). Even if in this age some neurotic traits occur simultaneously, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that it portends a neurosis in adult life. And, of course, there is no reason to think that would be a treatment aimed at eliminating these problems in childhood can prevent the development of adult neurosis. (Further discussion of neurotic traits, see Ch. 20 in the section devoted to the problems of preschool children.)

Neurotic syndromes in childhood

Valuable data were obtained by Robins (1966) as a result of follow-up study of 500 adults who were 30 years ago, at the appropriate age were registered in counseling for children with unstable mentality. As it turned out, among these persons cases of neurosis in adulthood met no more than adequately matched control group. The results of other follow-up studies confirmed that most children suffering from neuroses usually grow quite mentally healthy (see: Graham 1986). In those few cases where a child is replaced by neurosis in adult life from a mental disorder, it is usually expressed in the form of neurosis or depression (Pritchard, Graham 1966). Chronic cases can be largely genetically determined, while most transient associated with response to particular circumstances. It should be noted that the majority of adults suffering from neuroses in childhood did not use the services of specialized consultations. Overview follow-up studies of mental disorders in childhood, can be found in Robins (1970).

Psychoanalytic theory

In general psychoanalytic theory presented in Sec. 4. Here they will not be discussed in detail, as their contribution to the understanding of the etiology of the neuroses, in the opinion of the authors of this book, is negligible. Next, we briefly discuss two aspects: the evolution of Freud's ideas and general characteristics of the extended them to explain the origin of neuroses. Also etiological theories in a number of early works of Freud contains vivid descriptions of neurotic clinical syndromes that are highly recommended to the reader (see, for example: Freud 1893, 1895a, b).
Evolution of Freud's ideas about the etiology of neurosis is described in his autobiographical sketch (Freud 1935). These ideas have arisen in the course of collaboration with Breuer, Freud, which led to the conclusion that the cause of hysteria are sexual disorders. In 1895 he postulated about two kinds of disorders causing various types of neuroses. First, a direct toxic effect of suppressing sexual function causes the development of anxiety neurosis and neurasthenia (which he called actual neuroses) and secondly the mental consequences of suppression of sexual function are the cause of hysteria hysteria alarming (agoraphobia), and obsessional neurosis.
Soon the idea of ​​actual neurosis was abandoned, and now all the neuroses conceived as having psychological causes in the form of repressed memories of unpleasant events. Freud attempts to identify the alleged repressed memories met resistance from some patients, which led him to postulate the existence of an active process holding those memories out of consciousness. This process is called displacement. Later, Freud came to the conclusion that some imaginary memories are not playing in the memory of actual events, but represent a fantasy. Nevertheless, these fantasies, according to Freud, has an important role in the etiology. So, he wrote: neurotic symptoms were not directly related to actual events and fantasies that embody the desire and psychic reality was more important than the material (Freud 1935, p.61).


Along with the development of ideas about the causes of neurosis, Freud built two other hypotheses, one of which concerned the organization of mental activity, and the second normal mental development in childhood (see p.93). Later, he included them in the next few revisions of his theory of neurosis.


Generally speaking, all the versions of Freud's theory of the etiology of neurosis include three components. First, it is assumed that the main symptom of anxiety neurosis is, other symptoms are secondary and arise as a result of protective mechanisms (see p. PO), which aims to reduce this anxiety. Secondly, anxiety arises when I (ego) is not able to cope with one hand, with the pressure of psychic energy emanating from Ono (id), and on the other hand with the requirements of the ultra I (super-ego). Thirdly, neuroses begin in childhood, when you can not normally pass any of the three postulated stages of development: oral, anal or genital.

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