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Case 6

Virginia S., born Sptember 13, 1931, has resided at a state training school for the feebleminded since 1936, with the exception of one month in 1938, when she was paroled to a school for the deaf “for educational opportunity.”Dr. Esther L. Richards, who saw her several times, clearly recognized that she was neither deaf nor feebleminded and wrote in May, 1941:

Virginia stands out fromother children [ at the training school] because she is absolutely different from any of the others. She is neat and tidy, does not play with other children, and does not seem to be deaf from gross tests, but does not talk. The child will amuse herself by the hour putting picture puzzles together,sticking to them until they are done. I have seen her with a box filled with the parts of two puzzles gradually work out the pieces for each. All findings seem to be in the nature of a congenital abnormality which looks as if it were more of a personality abnormality than an organic defect.

Virginia, the younger of two siblings, was the daughter of a psychiatrist, who said of himself (in December, 1941): “I have never liked children, probably a reaction on my part to the restraint from movement (travel), the minor interruptions and commotions.”

Of Virginia’s mother, herhusband said: “she is not by any means the mother type. Her attitude [toward a child] is more like toward a doll or pet than anything else,”

Virginia’s brother, Philip, five years her senior, when referred to us because of severe stuttering at 15 years of age, burst out in tears when asked how things were at home and he sobbed: “The only time my father has ever had anything to do with me was when he scolded me for doing something wrong.”

His mother did not contributeeven that much. He felt that all is life he had lived in “a frosty atmosphere”with two inapproachable strangers.

In august, 1938, the psychologist at the training school observed that Virginia could respond to sounds, the calling of her name, and the command, “Look())”

She pays no attention to what is said to her but quickly comprehends whatever is expected. Her performance reflects discrimination, care and precision.

With the nonlanguage items of the binet and Merril-Palmer tests, she achieved am IQ of 94. “Without a doubt,”commented the psychologist, her intelligence is superior to his....She is quiet, solemn, composed.Not once have I seen her smile. She retires within herself, segregating herself from others. She seems to be in a world of her own, oblivious to all but the center of interest in the presiding situation. She is mostly self-sufficient and independent. When others encroach upon her integrity, she tolerates them with indifference. There was no manisfestation of friendliness or interest in persons. On the other hand, she finds pleasure in dealing with things, about which she shows imagination and initiative. Typically, there is no display of affection...

Psychologist’s not, October, 1939. Today Virginia was much more at home in the office. She remembered (after more than a year) where the toys were kept and helped herself. She could not be persuaded to participate in test procedures, would not wait for demonstrations when they were required. Quick, skilled moves. Trial and error plus insight. Very few futile moves. Immediate retesting reduced the and error by more than half.There are times, more often than not, in which she is completwly oblivious to all but her immediate focus of attention...

January, 1940. Mostly she is quiet, as she has always worked and played alone. She has not resisted authority or caused any special trouble. During group activies, she soon becomes restless, squirms. and wants to leave to satisfy her curiosity about something elsewhere. She does make some vocal sounds, crying out if repressed or opposed too much by another child. she hums to herself, and in December I heard her hum the perfect tune of a Christmas hymn while she was pasting paper chains.

June, 1940.The school girlshave said that Virginia says some words when at the cottage. They remember that she loves candy so much and says “Chocolate,””Marshmallow,”also “Mama”and “Baby.”

When seen on October 11,1942, Virginia was a tall, slender, very neatly dressed 11-Year-old girl. She reponded when called by getting up and comping nearer, without ever looking up to the person who called her. She just stood listlessly, looking into spcace. Occasionally, in answer to questions, she muttered, “Mamma, baby.”When a group was formed around the piano, one child playing and the others sining, Virginia sat among the children, seemingly not even noticing what went on, and gave the impression of being self-absorbed. She did not seem to notice when the children stopped singing. When the group dispersed she did not change her position and appeared not to be aware of the change of scene. She had an intelligent physiognomy, though her eyes had a blank expression.









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