Typos p. 60: phylogentical [= phylogenetical]; p. 61: Pädogogik [= Pädagogik]; p. 68: cotinues [= continues]; p. 71: perseverence [= perseverance]; p. 74: Op, cit. [= Op. cit.]
It is not easy to understand the child. The average adult is not much troubled by feelings of inadequacy in this matter only because, where knowledge of the child and its psychology is lacking, its place is filled either by the false assumptions we have been examining, or else by guesses made chiefly with the help of the adult's knowledge of himself or herself. That is to say, the adult projects into the child characteristics, motives, tastes and points of view which are mature and foreign to child nature. As few self-respecting grown-up persons wish to confess themselves baffled or perplexed in a matter which is believed by the majority to require no study at all, most people prefer, in dealing with children, to rely on the policy of random judgments made adventitiously as the circumstances and their mood dictate.
Hence to mention only one consequence of ignorance the number of mistakes both men and women make in trying to please children. Among the most common of these is the practice of giving expensive toys as Christmas and birthday presents. I remember one home in which I was shown a top-floor room full of the largest and most costly dolls I have ever seen in my life. They had been put there out of sight as unwanted. Certainly, if they gave the little girl who owned them the same acute nausea that they gave me, I can understand why she never wished to play with them.
The adult, who acts thus subjectively, is wont to argue as follows: "Since the measure of love is sacrifice, and there is more sacrifice in paying a heavy than in paying a light sum,
The fact that, in such circumstances, the child is often merely bored, may convey to the adult that someone has blundered. But, as a rule, the conclusion drawn is that the child's parents have not trained it in gratitude.
Of course, we all know that in purse-proud circles obsessed with pecuniary prestige and these are almost commensurate with the circumference of the earth to-day expensive toys may be and often are given to children either to advertize the donor's pecuniary soundness, or else to please the parents, who may be relied upon to assess their friend's regard for their children by means of a cash yard-stick.
But even if such circles were left out of account, there would still remain a substantial number of people many of whom, strangely enough, belong to the poorer classes who habitually give their own and other people's children expensive toys on the principle that expense is the measure of their love and will be felt as such.
Naïveté could hardly go further? There is no telling how far it will go! And in the matter of adult subjectivity applied to the treatment of children it has no limits. Thus we see to abide by the question of presents adults giving children games and appliances which are purchased, not because it has been ascertained they will amuse the child, but because they obviously enchant the adult purchaser. Or the purchased object may be regarded as "good" for the child, because it inculcates a good moral in the child for whom it is intended.
Thus, in the early years of America's military co-operation with us in the late war, the rural districts of England were overrun by black soldiers who played havoc with the morals of the young female rustic, both single and married. But, despite the rapings, indecent assaults, and countless violations of virgins under sixteen years of age (sometimes consenting parties) by the niggers, and the open voluntary
Later on, when the havoc reached alarming proportions, many of these women relented, and one admitted the mistake other original policy. But it was then too late. In April, 1947, there were 10,000 illegitimate coloured children in this country! (See Daily Press, 5.4.47).
Now and this is the point I wished to emphasize throughout this period, when terror prevailed everywhere, it was quite common to see little mites of girls going about with black-faced dolls, or pushing them along in toy prams.
But let no one suppose that there was any intention here of emulating those of their female elders who had too readily surrendered to tropical charms; for it was still too early for the consequences of these surrenders to be seen. No, the black-faced dolls were, I believe, given by the children's elders as part of the general campaign to discredit the colour-bar and to inculcate upon the bewildered little girls, who flaunted these inanimate black babies, the "healthy" sentiments of race-denial. I do not for a moment suppose that the children's wishes were ever consulted in the matter.
Just one other flagrant instance of this misunderstanding of children occurs to me as I write. It relates to the tendency in the well-meaning adult to wish to show parties of young
I remember witnessing with some misgiving the departure from a Suffolk village of a large party of children, between the ages of eight and fourteen, to visit the monuments of London. Nor was I the least surprised to learn that, after one hour of the "educative" exploration of St. Paul's, the whole party clamoured so insistently to be taken to the Zoological Gardens, that the original programme had to be scrapped, and the day's edification concluded in the contemplation of wild animals and birds. Nevertheless the mistake involved in this policy continues to be made needless to say at vast expense by all the authorities concerned with the care of the child. It never seems to occur to any of them that since among adults the interest in public monuments and museums is at all events far from universal and that, even among those who profess it, it is frequently mere snobbery, the proportion of children who have a genuine interest in these things must be so small that it amounts almost to cruelty to penalize the majority in order to meet the needs of what must be looked on as the exceptions.
The reader who is inclined to doubt the above statements is strongly advised to engage one of the older attendants at each of the recognized "sights" or museums of London, in a little private conversation, and to learn his views. They may be expressed in language that would shock a schoolmaster,
Many similar examples could be given, and doubtless many others will occur to the observant reader. And all, without exception, indicate that even in the matter of giving presents, the child to-day is not understood.
Probably only the fewest know that, in the child, the adult world is confronted by a fundamentally different order of being, a creature as strange as if he were a visitor from another planet.
It is now a commonplace of biology to see in the growth of all animals, including Man, from the fertilized ovum to maturity, a more or less lightning repetition of the stages in evolution through which every species has passed. In scientific jargon this is described as the ontogenetical recapitulation of the phylogentical development.
For instance, the first red cells to appear in the blood of the human embryo resemble those of the early aquatic creatures. These are followed later by what are known as ichthyoid corpuscles, because of their resemblance to the permanent red blood cells of the ichthyopsida, or fishes and amphibians. These, in their turn, are superseded by the sauroid corpuscles, so called because of their close similarity to the adult blood corpuscles of the reptiles, and these ultimately disappear to make way for the first true mammalian red blood cells. At birth all our piscine, amphibian and reptilian types of red cells have vanished and made way for those of the characteristically human kind.
This blood history is paralleled by analogous evolutionary changes in the bodily structure, all of which more or less reflect the transformations that have occurred in order to produce Man from the simplest organisms, and, if we read these changes accurately, they will be found to harmonize with the geological record. (Based on Surgeon Rear-Admiral C. M. Beadnell's Our Blood and Its Evolution, Rationalist Annual, 1944).
At the hands of those who should know he has to learn by precept and example how to become a decent and well-behaved adult in the advanced society in which he has been plunged. For, in infancy and childhood, he knows no more about it than his body knew how to be human in the third month of foetal life.
Hence Kant, writing over a hundred and fifty years ago, expressed the belief that if those, in whose charge a child grows up, do not in the early days accustom him to submit to the dictates of reason, he will retain throughout his life a certain wildness or savagery ("eine gewisse Wildheit": Ueber Pädogogik, Dr. Willmann's edition, p. 62).
Herbert Spencer, in 1861, came to much the same conclusion. He said: "Do not expect from a child any great amount of moral goodness. During early years every civilized man passes through that phase of character exhibited by the barbarous race from which he is descended. As the child's features . . . resemble for a time those of the savage, so, too, do his instincts." (Education, pp. 121122).
The New Psychology abundantly confirmed this. But so little were Kant's and later on Spencer's teaching understood and taken to heart, that the modern world, wedded to and loving the Wordsworthian standpoint, was as deeply shocked by the revelations of the New Psychology as if the two great philosophers had never existed.
From the first, the child is concerned only with one object satisfying his desires and seeking his pleasures, regardless of anything or anybody else in his neighbourhood. He is governed, in fact, exclusively by what Freud terms the Pleasure Principle. Nor is there any impulse within him to
Since, therefore, he is for many years little more than a young savage and capable of all the uncivilized acts of such a creature, it is clear, as Augustine long ago pointed out, that if the word "innocence" means anything at all in relation to him, it can only be interpreted as a physical inadequacy, a muscular incompetence, preventing him from realizing his barbarous desires.
In order to have his own way and to secure himself every pleasure his primitive impulses suggest, the child is prepared to seize any opportunity, employ any ruse compatible with his stage of development, and exploit any weakness, forgetfulness, or absentmindedness on the part of his elders. His curiosity is so boundless, and his hunger for knowledge about his world so pressing that, as he becomes able to move independently, he is quite unscrupulous and indefatigable in his quest for data.
His appetite for pleasure never having to meet, from the quarter of his own ruling instincts, with any moral or other obstacle, he cannot at first understand why such limitations on his free gratification should be repeatedly imposed by the giants that have hovered round him ever since he can remember.
But since he has learned by innumerable experiences to respect the physical strength of these giants and, as he develops, to trust it; since, moreover, he finds that these giants give him his food, which is among his most important satisfactions and, as time goes on, he acquires a corresponding sense of the spiritual equivalent of their physical strength, which is their moral firmness, exhibited by them in the exercise of their will over him, his respect and trust are compounded of many elements which conflict with his impulses to follow only the Pleasure Principle.
The child's inferiority feelings, alone, would suffice to prompt this behaviour because, under the lash of these feelings, he constantly watches for chances to abate them by attaining to situations of superiority. As Adler says, the striving for superiority in the child "is directly related to the feeling of inferiority." I am far from accepting all Adler's views, but when he says, "Throughout the whole of a child's development he is possessed by a feeling of inferiority in his relation to his parents and the world" (Praxis und Theorie der Individual Psychologie, p. 9) and "All children have an inherent feeling of inferiority, which stimulates the imagination and incites attempts to dissipate the psychological sense of inferiority by bettering the situation," I wholly agree with him, more especially as he was, in this matter, anticipated by one of the profoundest pedagogues of all time who was writing a hundred and forty years ago. I refer to Joh. Friedrich Herbart who in his Allgemeine Pädagogik (p. 27) speaks of the child as "disliking his sense of smallness compared with us." Adler means, of course, by "bettering the situation" no more than bringing about "a lessening of the feeling of inferiority." (The Education of Children, pp. 7, 8, 36).
Thus it is natural for the child to be constantly on the alert so as to turn any weakness in his giants to his own advantage. In this respect he is as patient and observant as if he were a prehistoric hunter, cowering in ambush for game. Any occasion for dominion that his giants give him
He will be all the more prone to exploit any weakness because, having at first in his own being no spontaneous impulse to check his lust for pleasure, he will gladly seize on any chance of defeating his giants' attempts to check it. He will try to do this in order to secure pleasure by all the means his primitive appetites and ideas suggest. He will feel so strong a love of certain practices, and will understand so little when his giants manifest their horror or disgust at him when his loves lead him to unsavoury or indecent acts, that he will try, if he can, to confine such gratifications of his pleasure-lust to private moments. He will steal such moments, as it were, and display cunning in so doing.
"When we contemplate love in children," writes Dr. Pfister, "we are not looking into a charming and tranquil garden, but into a world that often arouses horror, pity and even disgust." (Love in Children, p. 94).
It is because of the severe struggle that must take place between his desire to gratify his pleasure-lust, no matter what form it may take, and the firmness of the giants about him, that he will develop a peculiar keenness in finding flaws and breaches in their armour and character.
His Will to Power, moreover, apart from the evolutionary stage his age represents, makes him oblivious to the feelings and wishes of others if, in overlooking them, he can escape unscathed while pursuing the substantial gratification of his power feelings. Thus, he will often act heartlessly and cruelly, as if he alone were of any importance and his feelings alone were significant. Hence La Fontaine's remark, "Cet âge est sans pitié." (Fables, Bk. IX, 2). The child's power feelings will also find enjoyment and enhancement through the destruction of no matter what. Chamber-
It is doubtless, too, the primitively human Will to Power in the child which, besides keeping him, as we have seen constantly on the qui vive for signs of weakness in the giants about him, also sharpens his faculty for dividing or separating them, if he possibly can. For by introducing division between them, or fostering it, he foresees the chance of lessening their checks on his pursuit of his own pleasure.
True, the giants are indispensable to him. Their strength, alone, is an essential part of his successful adaptation to life. But if he finds that the advantages he derives from them are in no way impaired by separating them and thereby reducing their united strength as it is exerted against himself, he will quickly resort to any means to divide them. For whilst united they have on innumerable occasions hampered his efforts at self-assertion and self-gratification, he has found that when they are separated he is much more likely to get his own way, especially if one of them has been won over to him. He will, therefore, not shrink from dividing in order to rule, and will exult secretly when two of his giants are at loggerheads and he is the subject of their differences.
"It is astonishing," writes Susan Isaacs, "how subtly clever even quite small children can be in bringing about tensions between parents, or between mother and nurse, causing one to criticize the other and to side with the child against the other." Earlier the same author remarks: "When one young child is present with two parents (or parent figures) he will very often try to part them in feeling
It is his innate Will to Power also that makes the child possessive and acquisitive, and his possessiveness is never more completely gratified than when he becomes aware of possessing one of his giants, especially his mother, body and soul. So many examples of this sort of possessiveness must occur to every modern adult who keeps his eyes open, that it would seem unnecessary to dwell on the matter here. For most latter-day mothers drop, as it were, fully rehearsed and word-perfect into the rôle their child wishes them to play.
With one mother I once knew it was hardly possible to have a moment's private talk before her child would come on the scene with some urgent and usually quite futile request which was calculated to divert her attention. His engine had tumbled over, or he wanted a drink, or his shoe-lace had become unfastened, or he implored her to pull his swing, or find his bricks. His ingenuity and inventiveness in discovering pretexts for distracting his mother's attention from a guest, or from anyone who engaged it however briefly, were quite inexhaustible and, from subsequent closer observation of him, I soon had solid grounds for suspecting that, when his request related to some necessary adjustment of his clothing or his shoes, he had deliberately brought about the need himself.
Unfortunately, his mother was as indefatigable in meeting his demands as he was in contriving them and although he was only five at the time, I heard from a governess that he would even feign sudden lameness or pain to appropriate her to himself, and the ruse never failed.
Another child, I remember, who had likewise succeeded in wholly possessing his mother, deliberately lost part of a toy glider twice in half an hour in order to divert his mother's attention from my wife and me who were entertaining her and other people at tea. I found the part once by groping
Of course she responded as he expected her to do, and he was secretly triumphant.
As the kind of parental behaviour these children's wiles provoked is now alas! all too common to require further illustration, I shall not burden these pages by multiplying examples of the kind. For the moment suffice it to point out only one important feature of these two cases.
In both of them, although the superficial observer could see only deep mutual attachment between the mother and son, there was in fact little of it in either. Both were in truth, self-seekers, and both, therefore, acted heartlessly. I shall explain this in Chapter VIII, although if the reader has so far followed me, especially my remarks on p. 63, he should be able to anticipate my explanation.
It is again this same ever-pressing love of power feelings manifesting itself as a lust of appropriation that makes the child jealous and intolerant of rivals, especially in his relation to the giants of his circle. When such rivals appear he will display all the jealousy and hatred of a still untamed nature and, if he can, will act against them with neither mercy nor scruple. The more deeply he feels the rivalry, the more ruthlessly will he try to end it. If he cannot end it, he may languish or even perish.
That realistic aristocrat, François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénélon, knew this long before the New Psychology
In most families in all, according to Freud and his disciples this passionate jealousy is roused through the child's rivalry with one of the giants themselves. The child is stirred deeply enough by the rivalry of another child. But, when confronted with the rivalry of one of the giants in his own home, he finds an opponent much more difficult to deal with. How can he proceed against his father who is stealing his mother's love from him, or openly trying to share it? With a little girl, the relationship to the parents being more complicated, the situation is less clear and is reversed; for she has to discover how to deal with a giant her mother who is competing with her for her father's love.
The Eternal Triangle? Yes! But in a form so tangled and involved and with a co-respondent, or tertium quid, so impotent that, for dramatic or even tragic possibilities, it bears little resemblance to the tamer affair of the Divorce Courts.
The problem is, in reality, hopeless. And because it is hopeless and the passions of the child are still untamed and in their mint state; because, moreover, the rival in these situations, in addition to being hated, is loved, looked up to and trusted, and also shows the child love and tenderness, even the violent impulse to hate and hurt is mixed with feelings of guilt, shame and awe. Thus the impulse to hate and hurt gets smothered. It is repressed and, as a buried complex of associated and conflicting emotions, which cotinues to seethe and fizzle in the sub-conscious layers of the mind, it may and often does affect conscious behaviour
Adverse judgments passed either against a father or mother in later life, which have a tincture of bitterness or injustice in them, may spring from these poisoned roots. If such judgments are passed against a parent who does not deserve them, they may certainly be assumed to have sprung from such roots. Often the very choice of a profession or trade may be determined by this complex the grown child, although manifesting all the gifts for following his father's profession or occupation, choosing a quite different calling because of the deep and unreasoning antipathy he feels towards his sire.
When the rival is another child, the situation is more easily handled by the jealous youngster. He can be openly aggressive and hostile to such an interloper, and usually he is both. It is not at all unlikely, I believe, that all aggressiveness towards their contemporaries and all persistent teasing on the part of children is the outcome of the fact that all other children are viewed by the child in the light of actual or potential rivals. At least this is confirmed by my own vivid recollections of my contemporaries when I was a child. I disliked them all profoundly.
Susan Isaacs declares that "aggressive behaviour to other children appears to be so normal as to represent a definite step in social behaviour." (Social Development in Children, p. 231).
I am sure she is right, and the correctness of her viewpoints, I submit, to the prevalence of the feelings of which I retain the vivid recollections above-mentioned.
Dr. Kate Friedlander, in her admirable book, The Analytical Approach to Juvenile Delinquency, also emphasizes this aspect of young children. She writes of toddlers (p. 12) as follows: "Unless they are under constant supervision, such children push and scratch and bite each other without any regard for the suffering of their victim, and the glee in
When the rivalry is felt within the family itself, and in relation to a mother or father who is passionately loved by passionate offspring, quarrels and fights between the children are not unlikely to be fierce and frequent and if, in later life, a certain cooling off of the once brotherly relationship, or even a marked estrangement takes place, it may be assumed that it is a late echo of the bitter rivalry that was once felt in relation to one or both of the parents.
Discussing situations of this kind, August Aichhorn speaks of the jealousy with which every child looks on his brothers and sisters as "dangerous competitors" (gefährliche Konkurrenten), and adds that, where the parents have not known how to deal skilfully with these rivalries a certain coolness (eine gewisse Kühle) is likely to remain in the relationship of the children in later life. (Verwahrloste Jugend, pp. 103104.)
It is the pursuit of power and the impulse of self-assertion, still taking the form of appropriation, that prompts the child to approach all people and things with a view to concentrating them on or about himself, and to control their, attention and, if possible, their independent movement.
Hence the child's fondness for loud noises and for exhibitionist behaviour in general. It may be intolerable to both parents and their neighbours to have a child marching round a garden, or a room only thinly partitioned off from next door, beating a tray, or a drum, or blowing blasts on a trumpet. But the child enjoys it above all because he is demonstrating beyond any possibility of denial, the reality
When the noise the child makes is so loud and incessant that he is able to infer from the looks and admonitions of the giants that he is actually inflicting pain upon them, he may, if he persists in it, be going beyond mere self-assertion. He may, that is to say, be intending to act aggressively and expressing his power to hurt. But this will not prevent him from displaying every sign of intense pleasure and, in the enjoyment he thus procures himself, he may by a fluke make a discovery which will serve him for all time. I mean by this, that he may suddenly perceive the effortless ingenuity with which he has lighted on the tactics of "indirect approach" in gaining the end he desires; for it will become clear to him that he is able to injure those about him without, so to speak, giving them a handle, without making it plain that his object is to injure them. He deprives the act of aggression of palpable signs of aggressiveness.
Often, therefore, great noise made by a child may be interpreted as an indirect act of aggression which gives his giants no such solid ground for reproach as a direct or deliberate blow would give. After all, beating a tin kettle is a long way from beating his father or the surly spinster next door!
The child's acts of power against the inanimate objects
Sometimes the power best expresses itself, when the child is very young, by flinging things savagely about, usually on to the floor. And if he should discover, again by the tactics of indirect approach, that by such antics he can compel a giant to bend, stoop, or stir on his behalf, either to pick up or replace what he has moved, his sense of power over inanimate objects will soon be eclipsed by the discovery that, by means of them, he can mobilize the strength of the giants in his service, usually his mother.
The child's natural curiosity, his urgent wish to know all he can about his world, may, however, have a share in at' least his destructive lust towards the objects surrounding him. He may, for instance, break an object, or pull it to pieces, to discover how it is made, or what it is made of. This is a primitive manifestation of the scientist's method of research. It is, in fact, the motive power behind all science. The disquieting forms which this curiosity may take, however, I must leave to the next chapter.