By Phyllis Greenacre
This selection of papers makes a speciality of the interplay of maturation levels and exact traumas within the first few years of lifestyles and the possible influence of those early styles at the constitution of the later character.
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Extra info for Trauma, Growth and Personality
That which determines whether or not neurosis is the THE PREDISPOSITION TO ANXIETY 27 outcome lies, then, in some other area, and once again in an unknown one. . For no trustworthy investigation has ever been carried out to determine whether difficult and protracted birth is correlated in indisputable fashion with the development of neurosis—indeed, whether children whose birth has been of this character manifest even the nervousness of earliest infancy for a longer period or more intensely than others.
While these are interrelated subjects, this study touches only upon the first two, leaving the subject of masochism for a further research. Birth seems to organize the anxiety pattern, setting in motion the genetically determined elements fused with those individually determined ones resulting from the special or unique birth experiences of the given infant. T h e commonest somatic elements are the cardiorespiratory ones, and the ever present psychic element of later stages of development is the anxious attitude itself—the sense that something unpleasant or positively painful will happen.
I t may be heightened by later experiences, to be sure, but is not lost. Another example, which I have had the opportunity to study considerably in the course of analytic work, is the pro duction of certain types of head sensations or headaches, which occur in states of marked anxiety. While these can be most easily studied in schizophrenic patients in whom they appear commonly, they may occur also, if the anxiety is marked, in neurotic and even in severe reactive states. I n my experience the type of head sensation may often be correlated quite definitely with the form of birth experience of the individual and appears under any conditions of very severe anxiety, but especially in later life situations in which the subject of birth is being stirred in the unconscious of the patient.