What is hospitalism?

The key to the meaning is already in the word: Hospitalism is understood to mean mental, spiritual and physical damage caused by longer stays in hospital or in a home (often after 3 months). It mainly  affects babies  and children in their first years of life, mostly without parents and caregivers. Due to the lack of any emotional relationships, they suffer serious developmental disorders that are difficult to recover from. These include, for example, restlessness (head or body rocking), reduced expression of gestures and facial expressions, slowing down of physical and mental development,  depression  and a generally poor state of health.

Nest warmth required

 In the 1960s, the Viennese psychoanalyst René A. Spitz (1887-1974) observed the importance of maternal attention in orphanages and infant wards in women’s prisons, among other places, and spoke of an “emotional deficiency disease” in this context. Due to our improved living conditions and not least the investigations of modern psychoanalysis, the clinical picture of hospitalism is now almost a thing of the past. What remains is the extremely important realization of a loving and responsible upbringing of infants and children.


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