David Simpson

David Simpson is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the British Psychoanalytic Association and a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society. He trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley hospital and is an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the Tavistock Clinic where he was Director of child and adolescent psychiatric training, Honorary Senior Lecturer at University College Medical School, and Co-Chair of the Autism Workshop and Learning Disabilities Service. Currently he teaches regularly in Eastern Europe His interests are wide and include the childhood roots of adult difficulties, the impact of parental difficulties and unconscious guilt.  


Sabbadini, A. (1988). The Replacement Child. Contemp. Psychoanal., 24:528-547.(0n Pep web)

Fraiberg S, Adelson E, Shapiro V (1975)  Ghosts in the nursery. J Am  Acad  Child Psychiatry 14:387-422.

Brief Outline of Lecture: 

I will discuss some ideas about the influence of parental projections on the development of children’s mind. I will focus on a group of patients, who hold in common the belief that they have ‘something inherently wrong with themselves’, which underpins their failure to achieve their potential.  I suggest that this belief arises through identification with their mothers’ belief that they were the ‘wrong child’. This follows from their mothers’ difficulties in mourning their dream of an ‘ideal right child’. Although traumatic losses involving children, are important, they are rarely sufficient, and I suggest that at the core of this problem lies a sense of deficiency and narcissistic vulnerability, in their mothers, which leads to their excessive adherence to an illusional ideal self or ‘ideal ego’. Through projection, into their child and its identification, this becomes installed as the child’s ‘ideal-ego’. Because the child fails to meet this ideal it feels itself to be ‘wrong’. This illustrates a mechanism for the intergenerational transmission of an ego structure, as suggested in Freud’s (1923) idea of phylogenetic inheritance. I illustrate this in three patients, including a child who shows how the problem develops as a result of the parents’ belief that he had something wrong, namely Asperger’s syndrome.

David Simpson