The present study grew out of two years' experience in treating a family with a phobic child. The referral had originally been made because the boy refused to attend school.* Interviews were once a week with the entire family. There were periods when one member or another was seen individually by himself, but these latter visits were generally in addition to the usual family visits.
The proposition in this paper is that the child's phobia is a symbolic public expression of breakdown in the equilibrium of the family. The pathologic interaction of the family members prior to the onset of the phobia is described. This interaction, although interfering with creative growth or growth in self-esteem in each individual, did serve the defensive purpose of keeping anxiety within tolerable limits and allowing the family to keep functioning as a unit. The events that led to a disruption