The Analyst at Work: Boys Only! No Mothers allowed/The Analyst at Work: Comments on 'Boys Only! No Mothers allowed'/The Analyst at Work: Triadic Reality, Same Sex Parents and Child Analysis: A Response to Ann Smolen's 'Boys Only! No Mothers Allowed'

By Smolen, Ann G. PhD; Prot, Viviane Abel et al. | International Journal of Psychoanalysis, February 2009 | Go to article overview
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The Analyst at Work: Boys Only! No Mothers allowed/The Analyst at Work: Comments on 'Boys Only! No Mothers allowed'/The Analyst at Work: Triadic Reality, Same Sex Parents and Child Analysis: A Response to Ann Smolen's 'Boys Only! No Mothers Allowed'


Smolen, Ann G. PhD, Prot, Viviane Abel, Herzog, James M., International Journal of Psychoanalysis


Georgie was adopted from an Asian country at 8 months of age by two gay men, Herb (the legal parent) and Tony. There are few details of his prenatal and birth history although it is known that he had low Apgar scores. It is also known that he was born in the same hospital that became his home for his first eight months of life. Georgie was left flat on his back in a crib with minimal stimulation for this whole period of his life. I viewed videos taken at three months, six months and eight months. It was striking and quite disturbing to watch him deteriorate over the course of his first eight months. In the first video he looked to be a newborn, at six months he seemed about 2 months old, and at eight months he looked disturbed, almost psychotic, not unlike the infants that René Spitz first introduced us to in his landmark film on hospitalized infants. In this last video, and when Herb traveled across the world to retrieve him, Georgie lay on his back with a blank wideeyed stare with his palms up extended out in front. Herb was distraught upon meeting his new son and felt that if he did not go through with the adoption Georgie would surely die. Herb described this time as extremely stressful, as diapers were not used and Georgie was often covered in his own excrement. Herb noticed almost immediately that Georgie did not seem to respond to sound. It was determined that Georgie had complete hearing loss. Once in the United States, tests determined that there was no physiological damage. His deafness was caused by undiagnosed ear infections and understimulation. Within a few months his hearing was restored to normal.

Georgie responded to physical affection and developed an engaging smile. His gross motor development played a quick catch-up and he was walking by 13 months. Language development was delayed. His fathers quickly put several supports into place. He had occupational and speech therapy, had tubes placed in his ears, underwent multiple surgeries for a left strabismus, and had his adenoids removed. Georgie continued to have weak jaw muscles, which resulted in intermittent drooling. He also had a tendency to be aggressive with other children, especially his younger brother, John. John was adopted from a different country just one year after Georgie's adoption. John also experienced his first nine months of life in an institution but one where he was the only baby. To his advantage he was given a lot of attention by a primary caretaker and seemed to develop normally. John is more advanced than Georgie in many areas.

Presenting problems

Georgie was afraid of new experiences and had difficulties changing from one activity to the next. He was often socially inappropriate, intruding into another's physical space. In his pre-school class, he urinated on the floor and clogged up toilets and sinks and hid behind the toilet. Georgie became extremely upset when punished and would, at times, punch himself in the head. He often disregarded warnings from his father, running into the street or in front of cars in parking lots. All these behaviors and symptoms brought 5 year-old Georgie to my office where, after a short evaluation period, his analysis began.

Georgie's analysis

At our first meeting I was struck by 5 year-old Georgie's skinny, awkward appearance. It was easy to see where other children might find him 'different' as his ears stuck out and his eyes were wide apart with a large forehead. Most striking was his non-relatedness. He non-discriminately hugged me and came easily with me up the stairs to my playroom. His parting from his father was remarkable as there were no goodbyes by either of them and no acknowledgement upon reunion. He was well informed by his fathers as to who I was and why he was coming. He picked up the basketball and, as he adeptly made baskets, he told me that he knew all about me and wondered if "babies with worries" came to see me. In this first session he also showed me, through doll house play, angry interactions between his fathers and his own conflicted feelings concerning his own aggression toward his father.

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The Analyst at Work: Boys Only! No Mothers allowed/The Analyst at Work: Comments on 'Boys Only! No Mothers allowed'/The Analyst at Work: Triadic Reality, Same Sex Parents and Child Analysis: A Response to Ann Smolen's 'Boys Only! No Mothers Allowed'
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