Psychogenic Learning Disabilities

Probing New Insights into the Real Causes for Some Children’s Learning Problems


  • Problems in parental commitment to the educational process
  • Effects of materialism on academic commitment
  • “Learning blocks”
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Conduct disorders
  • Self-esteem problems

In recent years, we have heard much about children with “learning disabilities.” Generally, this term assumes a causative neurological impairment and often Attention-Deficit Disorder/Hyperactivity (ADDH) as well. Although the vast majority of ADDH children have no demonstrable brain pathology, the organic etiology is still assumed. In this book Dr. Gardner maintains that a substantial number of children whose learning problems are considered neurophysiologic are actually suffering with psychogenic learning problems. In support of this position he delineates the psychodynamics of psychogenic learning disabilities and the psychotherapeutic approaches to their alleviation, illuminated by theoretical material and extensive clinical examples.

The book begins with definitions of terms that clarify the differentiation between the neurologically based and the psychogenic learning disabilities. Psychogenic learning disabilities are divided into two categories: the primary psychogenic learning disabilities (those that directly relate to the educational process) and the secondary psychogenic learning disabilities (those that are primarily extra-academic in etiology but “spill over” into the academic realm). Primary disabilities include family and social values that compromise academic commitment, intellectual curiosity and academic motivation impairments, separation anxiety disorder, truancy, and learning inhibition (“learning blocks”). Among the secondary learning disabilities are general emotional inhibition, anger and self-assertion inhibition, conduct disorders, self-esteem problems, dependency, regression, depression, sibling rivalry, and sexual problems. Last, a final chapter is devoted to the relationship between schools and psychogenic learning problems.

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