Psychic Pain in Chronic School Failure/Learning Disabilities: Evidence from a Projective Technique

Dimitris S. Nikolopoulos*, Kalliopi Chatira*
University of Crete, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Crete, Greece.

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© 2014 Nikolopoulos and Chatira.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Crete, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Crete, Greece; Tel: +3028310 77538, 28310 77522; Fax: +302106990653; E-mails: and


The present study attempts to investigate the existence of psychic pain in young learners experiencing chronic school failure/learning disabilities. Using a projective technique, the participants were asked to express the thoughts, feelings, dreams and wishes of an ‘imaginary’ child of their own age. LD individuals: a mentioned terrifying nightmares, and b. did not ‘admit’ their LD, even though in subsequent questions the majority admitted a projection of their own thoughts and feelings onto the ‘imaginary’ child. A high proportion of ‘average/good’ academic performance individuals answered more positively. The response pattern of LD individuals in our projective task not only reveals the magnitude of the psychic pain experienced by LD individuals but also offers a unique depiction of the way in which each of these individuals experience the psychic pain. The feeling of ‘helplessness’ stemming from chronic LD, combined with other related negative experiences during the sensitive years of personality development, add up to severe psychological pressure like that described in the psychological trauma literature.

Keywords: Chronic School Failure, Learning Disabilities, Projective Techniques, Psychic Pain, Trauma.