flight into illness

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An attempt to escape from unacceptable feelings or conflicts by developing neurotic (1), psychotic (1), or psychosomatic symptoms. The term originated in psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) referred in 1894 to the ‘flight into psychosis’ (Standard Edition, III, p. 59), then in 1908 to the ‘flight into neurotic illness’ (Standard Edition, IX, p. 192), and then finally in 1909 to the ‘flight into illness’ (Standard Edition, IX, p. 231). See also primary gain. Compare flight into health, flight into history.

Subjects: Psychology.

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