Considerazioni sulle caratteristiche cognitive e affettive del bambino con sindrome malformativa.

Translated title of the contribution: Cognitive and affective characteristics of children with malformation syndrome

B. Tosi, S. Maestro, M. Marcheschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to study the psychological and relational aspects in children suffering from specific malformative syndrome and precisely Down s., Sotos s., X-Fragile s. and Williams s. Indeed literature provides much data related to the phenotype, to the organic-biological characteristics, but little or nothing is known about the affective structure, the episodes and to the particular dynamics that emerge in he relation between the parents and the malformed child. A protocol was applied to our sample group (16 subjects). This protocol includes laboratory and instrumental tests (chromosome test, neurometabolic screening, EEG, CT or cranial MRI, cardiac and abdominal ultrasonography, ear and eye test) aspects. This evaluation is carried out through the proposal of standardized situations (psychometric tests) and a use of a freer observational setting. This permits us to understand how the child perceives himself the awareness and the image he has of himself and how able he is to integrate his illness experiences and his way of relating with the environment. The data of our observations are thus used to compile a grill for the structural diagnosis of the personality. Besides, this evaluation is flanked by the observation of the family in order to explore the psychological image that parents have of their child, his character, his good points, his bad points, his similarities, how he relates to them, any educational problems and the emotional reaction that the communication of the diagnosis has raised in them. The videotaped observations are subsequently evaluated through the application of a grill for the study of the mother-child relationship. The results obtained from the psychological research underline a reasonable heterogeneity both of the intellectual level and of the metapsychological profile. Twelve subjects were mentally retarded (5 with mild mental retardation, 7 with moderate mental retardation); the remaining 4 had a normal cognitive development (3 with Sotos s., 1 with Williams s.). Psychological disturbances are present and thus divided: light disturbances (affective immaturity, neurotic-depressive organisation) in 11 subjects. Average disturbances (dysharmonious structure, and borderline personality) in 4 subjects; severe disturbances (psychosis) in 1 subject. Besides, above all in the group of subjects with X-Fragile s. and Down s., the tendency to assume behaviour of a regressive type, also postural, emerges. Among the 4 groups it is frequent to resort to defence mechanisms of hypomaniac type, accompanied by the denial of the patient's "sick parts". Another common characteristic concerns the quality of imaginary life which is shown to be repetitive and stereotype in content. Indeed these children's play activity characterized by a limited capacity of symbolization. Instead, when the symbolic process is more developed, contents concerning a deteriorated and destructive image of the Self emerges. Through the evaluation of family dynamics what is more noticeable is that the parent-malformed child interaction appears to be quite nonstimulating and noninvolving or incoherent, lacking in harmony and empathy towards the child's inner world. Indeed we can notice a lack of both verbal and extraverbal exchange of communication and brief interactive sequences which do not usually take into account the child's proposals and an affective tonality of depressive and nonaffective type. Therefore it may be concluded a certain smoothness in the clinical expression of the syndromes considered, both as far as the cognitive deficit entity and the psychic problems are concerned. Referring to the interactive dynamics between parents and children with dismorphic syndrom it seems that the child's pathology becomes the organizational summit of the above-mentioned relational dynamics among most of the patients examined...

Translated title of the contributionCognitive and affective characteristics of children with malformation syndrome
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalMinerva Pediatrica
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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