The key to the meaning is already in the word: Hospitalism is mental, mental and physical damage caused by prolonged hospital or home stays (often after 3 months). Mainly babies and children are affected in the first years of life, mostly without parents and caregivers. Due to the lack of any emotional relationships, they suffer serious and difficult to catch up developmental disorders. These include, for example, movement unrest (swings with the head or body), expression of gestures and facial expressions, slowing of physical and mental development, depression and a generally poor state of health.
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The Viennese psychoanalyst René A. Spitz (1887-1974) observed the importance of maternal care in orphanages and nursery wards of women's prisons in the 1960s, referring in this context to a "feeling deficiency disease". Due to our improved living conditions and not least the investigations of modern psychoanalysis, the clinical picture of hospitalism is almost a thing of the past. What remains is the very important realization of a loving and responsible education of infants and children.