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Middle-Class Waifs The Psychodynamic Treatment of Affectively Disturbed Children by Elaine V. (New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training) Siegel

Middle-Class Waifs The Psychodynamic Treatment of Affectively Disturbed Children


Middle-Class Waifs The Psychodynamic Treatment of Affectively Disturbed Children by Elaine V. (New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training) Siegel

In this volume, a well-known psychoanalyst, dance therapist, and educational consultant chronicles her clinical work with deeply troubled children who fall between the cracks of our diagnostic and educational systems. These children, who frequently turn out to have been sexually or punitively abused, have no real emotional home despite the fact that they live in materially comfortable circumstances. In spite of their apparent brightness and precocity, they do not thrive in the classroom, where their disruptive behavior, tendency to act out, and fragmented learning bring them to the attention of teachers, counselors, and school psychologists. Standard diagnoses do not explain their plight; such children are neither retarded nor learning disabled nor neurotic. Through poignant case studies, Siegel reviews the developmental circumstances that bring these middle-class waifs to a critical impasse with both their parents and the educational establishment. Time and again she discovers that the children's expectable developmental course has been derailed by their accommodation to parental abuse and deformed parental expectations. Psychodynamic treatment invariably uncovers the maladaptive solutions that fueled the children's behavioral and learning disturbances. This volume speaks to a broad clinical and non-clinical readership: psychoanalytic clinicians; psychologists; counselors; social workers; art, dance, and music therapists; special education teachers; child therapists; and child care workers. They will all join in admiration of Siegel's treatment approach which focuses on what is healthy in deeply traumatized children and, in so doing, helps debunk the myth of the untreatable child.


This book of case histories, written by a gifted and dedicated child therapist, is a most welcome and needed addition to the literature. It is reassuring and refreshing to hear that a humane environment enhances learning in children and that overemphasis on specialized remedial help can make us forget that children are whole human beings with a primary need to be understood. - Anni Bergman, Ph.D., Professor Clinical Psychology, CUNY

About the Author

Elaine V. Siegel, Ph.D., is Supervising and Training Analyst at the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training. A registered dance therapist, she served for 14 years as director of the motor development unit at Suffolk Child Development Center, a research facility of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Siegel maintains a private practice in Long Island and lectures widely both in the United States and Europe. She is the author of Female Sexuality: Choice Without Volition (Analytic Press, 1988).

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Book Info

Publication date

28th February 2017


Elaine V. (New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training) Siegel

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Routledge an imprint of Taylor & Francis Ltd




Psychoanalytical theory (Freudian psychology)
Paediatric medicine
Child & developmental psychology



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