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By Maria Rhode

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Finn is a fostered boy aged eight, seen three times a week for psychotherapy. He and an older sibling were removed from his parents when Finn was aged five, and placed with the current foster carers. The placement has periodically been jeopardised by his chaotic and destructive behavior, which includes instances of harming a neighbour's pets. He was physically neglected and often went hungry, since he was dependent on older siblings to procure him something to eat. He was referred because of his sadism towards animals, his destructive behaviour and a relentless preoccupation with food. In his sessions, Finn is endearing, funny and affectionate, but can become extremely chaotic, physically aggressive and destructive when he is anxious. The extreme contrasts in Finn's behaviour are tellingly illustrated in the background material. In hearing about looked-after and traumatized children, I have often been struck by the frequent occurrence of this kind of material, which conveys the extreme bodily anxieties that normally characterise psychotic children or those on the autistic spectrum. These anxieties also seem to be prevalent in emotionally healthy children who have a life-threatening illness. Perhaps what all these groups of children share is the extreme existential anxiety that comes with a threat to the roots of the sense of self. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title Journal of Child Psychotherapy
Volume 34
Issue 2
Pages 278-285
ISBN/ISSN 0075-417X1469-9370
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/00754170802208081
Author Address Rhode, Maria, Tavistock Centre 120 Belsize Lane, London, United Kingdom, NW3 5BA,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Autism
  3. Clinical aspects
  4. peer-reviewed
  5. Psychotherapy
  6. siblings
  7. Threat
  8. trauma
  1. peer-reviewed