Typos p. 197: Thornstein [= Thorstein]; p. 198: abberrations [= aberrations]; p. 201: Wirth-Knusden [= Wieth-Knudsen]; p. 201: thon [= than]; p. 204: vehementaly [= vehemently]; p. 206: inadmissable [= inadmissible]
The Deuce: Discipline
The word Discipline, like most abstract words in England to-day, is used so loosely and so many misunderstandings are the outcome of this loose usage, that before I advance a step in this chapter I will state clearly the only meanings I shall give to the word. They are four and, as the indiscriminate use of the word in any one of these meanings is, I believe, common, even among the educated, and the cause of most of the difficulties associated with the ideas the word suggests, I shall try always to state in which sense I am using it.
The four meanings in question are:
1. Instruction given to a disciple or chela. Tuition or training given to anyone attached to a teacher for education. This, the original meaning of the word, is its best meaning and that in which scarcely any modern person uses it.
2. The formal prescriptions or rules, subject to which mastery or proficiency in any pursuit is acquired. Thus we speak of "diet" disciplines, "drill" disciplines, etc. In opposing the disciplines of the Reality Principle to the impulses proceeding from the child's Pleasure Principle, we help him to acquire the mastery of life in the real world.
3. Control of another or of self, so that obedience is implicit even when 'I' commands 'Me.'
4. Chastisement and punishment (bodily chastisement). Now, odd as it may seem, the only meanings ever given to
No matter how deplorable may be their self-discipline and their discipline of others, especially their children, modern English people tend to look upon Discipline (in the third sense, and they know no other except the fourth) as something fundamentally evil and associated only with nations like the Germans and Japanese and therefore thoroughly to be reprehended. Knowing little, if anything, of Discipline in its first and second meanings, they are convinced that sequaciousness can never be secured except by means of force, fear and other rigorous methods of coercion. They have neither the information nor the experience which would enable them to think of the follower as one who may wish and like to follow, who may be willing and eager to be a disciple.
Besides, in an Age ruled by Modern Thought, in which everyone imagines (quite erroneously, by-the-bye!) that he not only enjoys but also exercises the Right of Private Judgment, any act of mere following must be anathema. It must mean the abandonment of that sacred Right (most probably under duress!) That is the gnawing suspicion.
Add to this that, in the Anglo-Saxon mind, the third meaning is always tinctured, if not deeply dyed, by meaning four, and you have the whole complex of emotions which instantly becomes fired by the mere mention of the word Discipline.
Robert T. Lewis, for instance, tells us that parents regard "discipline as synonymous with punishment" (Op. cit., p. 47) But not only parents, all modern people share this point of view. Their blood boils even when they see you trying assiduously to discipline a small puppy to keep off the road so that it will not get run over. Again and again, I have had to contend with this attitude in London streets. And even when subsequently I was able to walk about with my dog perfectly free, but by that time confined to the pavement by what it believed to be its own volition, whilst they had constantly to lead their own dogs about on leashes even then, they still did not appreciate their error and the more merciful character of my own training of my dog as a puppy.
It is not enough to point out to such people that the general deterioration of manners, as I showed in Truth of August 30th, 1946, and such records of modern English life as Our Towns and Branch Street, and the steady rise in juvenile delinquency, are all indications of the decline in discipline everywhere in our national life. For, with the customary heat displayed when complexes are stirred, they simply reply. "So much the better! Anything's better than discipline!"
They may even be so self-revelatory (modern people are extraordinarily naïf!) as to show Puritanical resentment when anyone wishes to impose discipline on any living thing. For since the meanings three and four are the only ones that ever occur to them, and they know from self-examination
But all this indicates that the bias against discipline in modern England is something deep-seated in almost everyone, man and woman alike, especially the latter, as I shall show in a moment. It is something anchored to complexes which are well-nigh universal and this in itself explains the ubiquitously unreasoning passion with which it is disliked.
The speed and monotony with which objections to the very idea always incline to a general suspicion of "cruelty," or at least rigorous coercion, suggests that probably there is what the psycho-analysts term "over-compensation" in the matter, i.e., some powerful but repressed impulse is active in the background.
What is this repression?
As already hinted at above, I submit that in all Anglo-Saxon people, especially the women, there is a repression of the normal component of sadism in their sexual instinct. And it is this repression which causes them to be unbalanced and irrational when they are presented with any ideas such as those which the word Discipline suggests to them. The fact that they do not understand the word except in its third and fourth meanings is alone self-revelatory. For were their minds more free to dwell on the fruitful, constructive and culturally essential aspects of the word, they would not be as obsessed as they are with its implications of coercion and chastisement connotations, by-the-bye, which in the Oxford English Dictionary, come only seventh!
How is this repression of the normal sadistic component of the sexual instinct brought about in modern English people?
Parenthetically, let me again point out, dear reader, that
Now, bearing in mind that, as even James Sully saw before the advent of the New Psychology (see Op. cit., p. 242), the active principle in sadism is the exercise of power over something, preferably a living thing, we find that in the male, in all healthy societies, it is expressed, or used up, in his relationship to woman where, through love, it becomes transmuted into feelings of tenderness and protection. In woman, on the other hand, in all healthy societies, it is expressed, or used up, in her relationship to her babies with whom, in the context of motherhood, her power lusts become harmlessly and usefully transmuted by love into tenderness and protection.
Thus, in their proper contexts, these normal sadistic components of the sex-instinct of man and woman find adequate, useful, harmless and exhaustive expression. It is only when they happen, for some reason or another, to be divorced from their proper context or, what is more common, incompletely used up, that they begin to cause trouble, either in the form of aberrant sexual behaviour, or else in originating twists and prejudices in the mind which make a rational understanding of any power manifestations in one person over another quite impossible.
Unfortunately, in our modern world, especially in preponderatingly urban societies where monogamy prevents men from fully expressing the normal sadistic component of their sex instinct, and where families of one child, two, or at most, three children similarly grossly limit women's expression of this component, there are in every one of us stored up, unused supplies of this sadistic component which remain as ungratified impulses. These, by becoming
My reason for saying, "especially in preponderatingly urban societies," is that, apparently in such societies schizothymes tend to multiply unduly, and that this type is notoriously unstable in its sexual adaptations.
Thus, we see that the business of probing into the dark corners of the modern English man and woman's loathing of discipline, like much of the investigation already carried out in this book, is, as I foresaw, a bitter business indeed. Truth to tell, there are very few aspects of modern life which can be closely scrutinized without some nausea. But having gone so far, it would seem inconsistently squeamish not to carry on.
In order to challenge the explanation of the present-day hostility to discipline which I give above, the escapist reader would have to be prepared to deny that there is in the sexual instinct of every healthy man and woman this normal sadistic component, or to deny that there is in modern life any undue storing or economy of it, which would mean that there is not the unused balance of its impulses, to which I allude.
As to the first denial, I can but commend him to the relevant authorities. If he could persuade Dr. Ernest Jones, for instance, or any psychologist of equal repute, that there is no normal sadistic component of the sex-instinct in healthy men and women, then, despite my own private observations confirming its existence, I might perhaps be induced to examine the question afresh.
If he has not long since shut up this book in despair, or disgust, the escapist reader may ask in what way are men, for instance, not fully expressing their sex-instinct to-day?
Before replying to this question, let me once again lay my hand on my heart and solemnly swear that I have had nothing whatsoever to do with Man's creation, and am therefore in no way answerable for the nature of his constitution. Having thus protected myself and I feel sure that even the most hostile reader will believe me in this matter I am afraid it has to be pointed out that, just as woman, in her nature, is polypedous, so man, in his, is polygynous. And, what is still more provoking, urban men are inclined to be even more polygynous than rustics.
I cannot, in every book I publish, return to a complete discussion of all the awkward and thorny questions I have already elucidated elsewhere. But if the reader will take the trouble to look at Appendix II of my Enemies of Women, he will find the whole argument with which I support the view that, with very few exceptions, all men are and must be, by their nature, polygynous. He will also find the same contention ably supported, although from a completely different angle, in G. Pitt-Rivers' Clash of Culture to mention only one authoritative confirmation of my thesis.
"But," the reader will retort, "has man always been so?"
Then what happened in the good old days? Have we
Can we be sure about this? At what period is this supposed to have happened? How much clandestine extra-marital satisfactions of the male sexual instinct does it cover? When has there been a generation of men who were not either covertly or overtly polygynous? (On this point the reader, to whom the literature on prostitution is not available, might usefully turn to ordinary histories G. M. Trevelyan's English Social History, for instance. Chap. XVI.) Of the lives about which we happen to possess precise information Samuel Pepys', for instance, or Byron's, or Shelley's or Dickens' we could certainly not say that they were evidence of male monogyny. Besides, until quite recently, in England at least, any stored up or undetonated sadistic material in the individual man was always able to find an outlet in so-called "sport" hunting, shooting, coursing, badgering, bear and bull-baiting, cock-fighting, etc., not to mention the witnessing of executions. Catharsis? Yes, of course! Let the reader examine some of the more pleasant pastimes of the English common people not more than a hundred and fifty years ago, before they were forbidden by law to indulge in them. Let him inspect the contemporary prints and illustrations depicting these pastimes. Let him inquire into how the English behaved in Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, North America in days relatively recent, and then ask himself whether perhaps stored up sadistic material was not then given a good deal of non-sexual expression.
Finally, let the reader remember that, at the present day, the vast majority in England that is to say, all the town dwellers certainly are deprived at least of the catharsis that was once provided by the more brutal pastimes referred to.
Has anyone now reading this book ever thought of asking himself how it is that the people who to-day regularly engage
All that the others, the great mass of the population, have left to them to-day, as an outlet for their undetonated sadistic impulses, is the witnessing of all-in wrestling, boxing, the reading and watching of crime thrillers, and the assiduous study of murder trials. And the immense and enduring vogue of these forms of entertainment ought in itself surely to suffice to indicate to the alert that there must be a good deal of unused sadistic material in the population. The very appeal made by film posters suggests this conclusion; for when we see, "Bigger and Better Murders" and "Be in early for the thrill of the kill," displayed in large letters on our advertisement hoardings, we must be dense indeed if we cannot appreciate their import. (Vide, Daily Press, London, 15.4.47.)
Moreover, are we to suppose that it is by a mere coincidence that the two greatest and most brutal wars in history have been fought in our times? Is that not also a symptom? Were we not able to talk about "bags" of enemy planes, when the deaths involved were not those of heads of game but of our fellow beings? Was anyone, on either side ever deterred by motives of humanity from doing anything, no matter how cruel, even to the monstrous annihilation of Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atom bombs? As Thornstein Veblen pertinently remarks in his essay on
And the authorities actually had the hardly credible naïveté to cause "a sadistic atmosphere" to be created in Army Battle Schools during the War of Polish Independence! (See Daily Press, April and, 1947).
I suggest that even if we confined ourselves to the evidence of our newspapers and popular dramas and fiction alone, it would be reasonable to infer that there was a dangerous amount of undetonated sadistic material in every one of us. But when we turn our attention to other aspects of modern life, we can hardly avoid this conclusion. And I submit that it is this sadistic material which, although harmless and even beneficent in its natural context, becomes, when pent up, undetonated and repressed, a source of the strangest aberrations.
Unfortunately, but, I believe, inevitably, among these abberrations is the modern attitude towards discipline, which can now be observed in high and low, rich and poor alike, throughout the Anglo-Saxon world and those countries influenced by Anglo-Saxonism. For these modern men and women, with much pent-up sadistic material in their unconscious, are everywhere today, and their chances of finding an outlet for it, even in the substitutional forms that were once accessible, are now inadequate and unsatisfying. When, therefore, they are confronted with any idea as perilously close to the exercise of power over another, as the word Discipline suggests, they cannot help a swift and irrational flight of their minds into suspicions and even accusations of cruelty and brutality.
Before further exploring the subject for wearisome as it may be, this kind of analysis must be performed if the reader is to understand the reasons for the state and plight of Discipline to-day I must first fulfil a pledge given earlier in this chapter, which was to explain why modern women especially are prone to understand and to mean only coercion,
In the first place, owing to their age-long association with babies and young children over whom adult power is at once most decisive and, by the nature of the relative strength of the parties concerned, most uncontested, it is probable that women have acquired a hereditary taste for complete power over live organisms which is keener and more radical than that of men. For whilst the man's normal expression of the sadistic component of his sex-instinct admittedly occurs in his relationship to the woman who is his choice for the moment, it is never in any sense as absolute and as inescapable as is the female's power over the child.
Thus, always remembering that power over a human creature is the active principle in all sadistic behaviour, it would not be unreasonable to suspect that in the female (especially the inadequately functioning female of modernity) there is a spontaneous, though entirely unconscious feeling of envy when she observes any exercise of power, not her own, over a living thing; and, since this envy easily manifests itself as "indignation," owing to its rationalizing itself as a "moral" objection, the woman imagines she is acting ethically in displaying it. I may point out, in parenthesis, that women always constituted the majority of those who resented my discipline of my young puppies in the street. For, although as everyone not a mental defective knows, the proper discipline of a puppy means that one need never strike it or even admonish it severely when it grows up, it must have struck all observers that it is chiefly women whom one sees whipping their full-grown dogs for acts of gross disobedience, just as it is the mothers who, in the Juvenile Courts, constantly inform the Child's Magistrate that they cannot control the children they spoilt as infants. But here I am anticipating.
I have actually noticed young women's hands shaking with fury when expostulating over a display of quite ordinary and
That is one factor.
Another factor which makes for a distortion by the female of observed acts of power by another is the early and constant association by the female child, of sadism, aggressiveness and therefore cruelty with the male rôle in sex, and consequently with men in general. The literature teems with references to this and examples of it, and it seems as well established as any fact could possibly be.
Let the reader glance, for instance, at Melanie Klein's Psycho-Analysis of Children (pp. 7071, 292), or Helene Deutsch's Psychology of Women (p. 13), or Freud's Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie and other works of his, where abundant evidence of this psychological phenomenon will be found.
As a consequence of this early childhood phase in females, most women will be found to suspect men especially of at least sadistic intentions, when they either exercise or advocate discipline, even if only in the third meaning of the word. And since this unbalanced attitude of mind becomes unconsciously anchored to their penis-envy, there tends to be in all women, whether adequately functioning reproductively or not, a strong feeling of opposition to discipline in general, even when it is advocated only in its first and second meanings. Their feelings about it are too heated, too violently stirred by their repressed childhood fantasies, to entertain it as an ideal at all. Even its first and second meanings, as we have seen, not only never occur to them spontaneously, but, if they do, also quickly become mingled with the fourth meaning.
That is another factor.
A third factor is a subjective one. Half-consciously aware of their own unsatisfied sadistic longings, and the ease with which in them acts of power, or of discipline, in the third sense, over living creatures, rapidly decline into acts of
Truth to tell, the facts are exactly the reverse. I have collected many data on this subject (see my Man: An Indictment, pp. 9396, and my Choice of a Mate, pp. 456458), whilst scientists such as Dr. A. F. Chamberlain, Dr. Briffault and Dr. Wirth-Knusden, to mention only a few, will be found to have wholly confirmed my findings. Thus the first says: "woman is more cruel than man" (Op. cit., p. 421); the second writes, "primitive women are . . . even more cruel and ferocious thon men" (The Mothers, I., p. 453), and again, of mediaeval women, "as usual the women excel the men in cruelty" (Ibid., III, p. 392); whilst the third declares, "children and women are the most cruel of mankind" (Feminism, p. 57). Nor should it be forgotten that psychologists are agreed that when cruelty of a particularly bestial type is found in men, they are usually effeminate in type and character.
I cannot further burden these pages by repeating the data Dr. Briffault and I give in support of these allegations regarding women's greater cruelty. But they should be carefully studied, especially by those readers who would still like to doubt their truth.
Now it requires but moderate psychological insight to appreciate that, wherever and whenever, subjectively, a creature feels the easy descent of her own disciplinary action into cruelty and brutality, she should suspect all her fellows of the same weakness, and thus form the impression that discipline and cruelty are synonymous. And since, in addition to their powerful native fund of sadistic material, women, for the reasons already stated above, are in any event
Nor does this seem to be merely a modern feature of feminine psychology, although it must have become substantially intensified by family limitation; for, in addition to Briffault's statement concerning mediaeval women, quoted above, we have Erasmus, early in the sixteenth century, declaring that "women are not only lacking in the necessary self-control but when roused are prone to extreme vindictiveness and cruelty." (Op. cit., 504 AD.)
This explains how it is that women tend to show no moderation in their attitude to children. They either spoil them outrageously this is true of the vast majority or else, if they attempt acts of a disciplinary character, they are always in the fourth sense of the word, and usually harsh. Sometimes, as many recent cases have shown, they can be diabolically cruel. For, the majority of women, subconsciously fearing the declivity into barbarity of their attempts at discipline, take refuge in the opposite extreme and, what is more, naturally resist with all their might any attempt on the part of their husbands to adopt disciplinary measures even when these are confined to the second and third sense.
For all these reasons it seems fair to say, therefore, that women are especially prone to be opposed to all forms of discipline, more particularly in the present era of family limitation, and this fact explains why, in all ages and countries when women's influence is in the ascendant in modern England and the U.S.A. for instance discipline in every department of social life tends to decline.
Thus Margaret Mead informs us that in the U.S.A., where women are probably even more powerful than in England, "children are as a rule very lightly disciplined" and "given little real respect for their elders." (Growing up in New Guinea, p. 123). But this absence of respect is a natural
As for England, as I have already pointed out, we have only to observe the behaviour of the average adult, to read our newspapers, and watch the steady decline of honesty among all classes in the nation, the unabating increase in juvenile delinquency, and the corresponding increase in mental disease, in order to feel persuaded that discipline, in any of the four senses enumerated, is as good as extinct. So profoundly disinclined is everybody to apply it, that defeatism is the recognized attitude towards every manifestation of children's wantonness and unruly behaviour. To give but one typical example of this, when it was found that the almond trees in the streets of Wembley led to children's throwing stones at them to get the nuts, no attempt or suggestion was made to discipline the children to a more social attitude to the matter, and to recognize the usefulness of the trees to all. It was merely decided to plant no more almond trees in the streets. (See Daily Press, 10.1.47.) And yet when in 1922 I was in the Eiffel district of Germany with my wife, and saw the fruit trees growing and bearing fruit along the roadside, and particularly inquired whether the trees were raided by children and adolescent boys and girls in the autumn, I was assured that nothing of the kind ever happened. Presumably, when a nation shows a higher social sense than we do here, it merely gives us an excuse for jeering at its love for being "goose-stepped" and "regimented."
Summing up the whole of the above, the statement therefore seems justified that there is in the modern Anglo-Saxon world, among men, and especially among women, a marked and quite unreasoning phobia of discipline. And, when we add to this influence, all the other influences discussed in my previous chapters, which together militate against a rational control and leadership of the child, we can hardly wonder that our society and its civilization should
Nor should it be forgotten that this pervasive and unreasoning phobia of discipline in the population necessarily leads to a settled mood of sentimentalism in most people. For sentimentalism is, much more frequently than most psychologists suspect, inverted sadism, or a sign of over-compensation through repressed sadistic impulses. Freud knew this, as his Sammlung Kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre, Vierte Folge (1918), Chap. III, p. 117, clearly shows. But it is a fact quite unsuspected by the popular mind.
Throughout this book I have repeatedly emphasized the many causes that have been operative in bringing about the present undesirable state of affairs in child-training, and it is very curious and a fact not without significance that no such searching summary of these causes, as I have attempted, has so far appeared. Imperfect as it may be, my attempt exhaustively to examine the progressive and inevitable decline in our society of the rational control and leadership of children is the first that has so far been attempted.
There have been various fragmentary attempts. Everywhere you will be able to find either experienced and sober educationists vehementaly deploring what they call the decline of discipline, or sentimentalists and ignoramuses pleading with equal vehemence for its further relaxation or abolition. But nowhere will you find any courageous and uncompromising attempt at a lucid explanation of the deeper reasons for this decline of discipline (at least in the first three
I suggest that one of the chief causes of this backwardness is the vague but ubiquitous tendency blindly to accept traditional errors about childhood and about the parent-child relationship, because they are either felt to have their source in venerable and unassailable doctrine, or have through the ages fastened too deep a hold on the instinctual life of most adults. Thus these errors cling like dead barnacles to the whole subject of child-culture, and are naturally causing it to stink to heaven.
It is, however, inconceivable that if such a book as I have now written, had long been in the hands of parents and educationists, the present gross errors of child-education in the majority of families could still be as prevalent as they are; nor, if this had been the case, can we easily imagine a Margaret Mead writing of the opponents of discipline in general as follows: "All these educators base their theories on the belief that there is something called Human Nature which would blossom in beauty were it not distorted by the limited points of view of adults." (Growing Up in New Guinea, p. 123.)
It should, of course, be plain to everyone, that what we now need most of all is not a further relaxation but a tightening up of discipline (certainly in the first three senses) in every department of life, but above all in the home. And many authoritative appeals have recently been made more or less distinctly and directly to this end.
J. H. Bagot, in his valuable monograph on Juvenile Delinquency (p. 13), for instance, writes, "Most confirmed criminals begin their careers in childhood," and, in explaining the high incidence of delinquency among elder children, he adds, "Where there are many children discipline tends to be weak owing to the many calls on the
I do not wholly endorse the reasons he advances for the high incidence of delinquency among elder children. I believe there are other and deeper causes accounting for this than he appears to suspect; but I shall return to this in the next chapter.
Later on, he deplores the want of "calm and consistent discipline" in the homes of the people (p. 77), and adds, "the presence of defective discipline must be detected and taken into account when dealing with delinquents, and any measure which could be devised to strengthen parental control generally would effectively reduce the number of children appearing in court" (p. 80).
Precisely! But as I have in these pages investigated all the influences now at work which make for a weakening of parental control, I cannot quite see what "measure" could successfully be adopted, short of ridding parents of these very influences.
Then appears this illuminating passage, strikingly confirmatory of much that I have alleged in the early part of this chapter: "Along with the apparent decline of parental discipline has gone an increasing resentment of disciplinary measures taken by others. This is often felt in the schools and it is an attitude adopted towards the police" (p. 80. The italics are mine. A.M.L.).
Those who have carefully read what precedes this quotation in the present chapter will understand.
C. W. Valentine, whose enlightened book I have already cited to much useful purpose, speaking of discipline, writes of the revolt against Victorian severity having led to the opposite extreme. (Op. cit., pp. 4748). Yes, up to a point this is true. But chiefly because the present generation,
Then, referring to a popular and facile misunderstanding of the New Psychology, C. W. Valentine points out, "There seems to be a real danger of an excessive laxity of discipline, encouraged as it has been by vague ideas of the harmfulness of repression." And he proceeds, "It is, I think, very probable that the frequent appearance of 'problem' children in 'broken' homes is partly due to the fact that in such homes the discipline is likely to be inadequate, inconsistent and erratic, and especially too lax, either because there is only the mother in the home, or, if there is only a father, because he is unable to exercise proper supervision through being out most of the day" (p. 53).
He argues that "the mother is more usually the lax disciplinarian" (p. 91). Feelingly and, unfortunately, with undeniable truth, Robert T. Lewis, whom I have already appealed to often in these pages, confirms C. W. Valentine by remarking that "Man it is who has sawn the rockers off the cradle and shown that the hand that rocks the cradle can wreck the world." (Op. cit., p. 21). Yes, indeed, and we know why!
J. H. Bagot found discipline defective in 59.4 per cent. of all the cases of juvenile delinquents he examined, and the proportion was greater among recidivists than first offenders. (Punitive Detention, p. 75.)
And no wonder! To sit in any Juvenile Court, as I have done, and to watch the interminable string of mature working-class matrons leading their offspring before the magistrate and assuring him of their complete inability to control them, is one of the most depressing experiences modern conditions afford. And that is saying a good deal! The way these women, with every sign of self-indulgence and defective self-discipline about them, shamelessly come
Without exception, I was easily able to picture them all, when the boy or girl before the magistrate was only a few months to three or four years old, deriving their "gratification" (in the sense of Pfister's definition) from indulging the child in all its whims; cuddling, fondling and spoiling it, applauding its exhibitionism, fostering its self-importance, humouring its food fads, ministering to its lust of power, and rejoicing in bending to its will. They looked like it. True, they knew no better. But seeing that to-day their "betters" know no better, where is the hope?
"It's my child, not yours!"
Yes! And there, before the magistrate, stood the result! I would remind the reader that, although I appear to be indicting chiefly the mothers of the working classes in this section, it would be wrong to suspect me of regarding these mothers as any worse child-educators than those of other classes in modern England. I have sufficiently pointed out above how, in the middle and so-called "upper" classes, it is not the superiority of the mothers that makes for the generally slightly better behaviour of their children, but the fact that, as a rule, the latter, in the wealthier sections of the community, fall much more, both in the home and outside it, under the influence of strangers who will not put up with too much nonsense. Truth to tell, I agree wholly with Dr. H. Crichton Miller when he says, "I am firmly convinced that, as far as the so-called upper-classes go, the mothers of England are deteriorating," and when he connects this deterioration with family limitation. (See Sexual Problems of To-day, edited by Dr. Mary Scharlieb, p. 8 of Lieut.-Colonel W. Shirley's essay).
But to return to Juvenile Delinquents, I have seen Mr. John Watson, who kindly allowed me to sit beside him at his
But this by the way. I must return to the advocates of discipline.
If, finally, we appeal to Dr. Cyril Burt's scholarly and dispassionate discussion of the problem of juvenile waywardness and criminality, we find him giving fifteen separate causes for this social evil. And which does he place first?
Like it or not, dear reader, the first cause on his list is "Defective Discipline." (The Young Delinquent, pp. 606
Dr. Burt makes this significant comment on his findings: "Of all environmental conditions, indeed of all the conditions whatever that find a place in my list of causes, the group showing the closest connection with crime consists of those that may be summed up under the head of defective discipline. Such features are encountered five times as often with delinquent as with non-delinquent children; and the coefficient of association soars to .55." (Op. cit., p. 96).
Nor should we fail to note this further and most important statement: "Of environmental conditions," says Dr. Burt, "those obtaining outside the home are far less important than those obtaining in it; and within it, material conditions, such as poverty, are far less important than moral conditions, such as ill discipline, vice, and, most of all, the child's relations with his parents." (Op. cit., p. 107).
When we remember that all this testimony regarding the lack of discipline relates only to the extreme consequences of it that is to say, to those cases which have necessitated an appearance before a magistrate, and takes no account of the vast number of individuals who, in their private circles, cause constant misery to those about them, through their atrocious behaviour, whether manifested in bad manners, bad temper, aggressiveness, bullying, overbearing habits, sulkiness, lack of good faith, self-importance, excessive touchiness, etc., we can form some idea of what modern people have to pay for the corrupt values, ignorance and generally false and superstitious principles which still prevail among the mass of the population, high and low, in regard to the training of children.
For fear lest I should be suspected of neglecting other considerations than merely defective discipline, let me state at once that I firmly believe in the importance of three other contributory factors in the production of the kind of adults above described and the children who ultimately grow into
(1) C. W. Valentine, as I have already had occasion to point out, is among the foremost of those who have called attention to the first factor. He rightly contests "the dogmatic assertion that all delinquents or difficult children are such entirely because of bad environment or training," and declares, "We have . . . both presumptive and direct evidence which makes this extremely improbable." He tells us, for instance, that "if there is too great aggressiveness, or stubbornness shown by the child, one has to consider whether this is due, not to the home environment, or repression in school, but rather to excessively strong, innate aggressiveness or self-assertion in the child itself." (Op. cit., pp. 1921).
This is profoundly true, and when we contemplate some of the appalling people who bring their children before the Courts, we often cannot help wondering why the child is not much worse than they say he is.
Dr. Burt also refers to this factor in the production of delinquents. He says: "Heredity appears to operate, not directly through the transmission of a criminal disposition as such, but rather, indirectly, through such constitutional conditions as a dull or defective intelligence, an excitable and unbalanced temperament," etc. (Op. cit., p. 107).
Why he seems to question the possibility of a direct transmission of a criminal disposition as such, is not clear; for surely, if dull and defective intelligence and an excitable temperament can be hereditary, asocial proclivities may also be. Or is he perhaps making a desperate last minute attempt, like Adler, to save the myth of man's original goodness at birth?
It seems, therefore, only reasonable, in examining the etiology of any particular case of delinquency or criminality, to allow for the possible inheritance of criminal propensities.
(2) As to the faulty treatment and misunderstanding of children who, at bottom, are merely mischievous or mutinous for perhaps a transient moment, and are apprehended and brought before the Juvenile Court as "out of hand," or delinquent, there can be little doubt that this is essentially a modern and comparatively recent evil. Nor do I hesitate to suggest that part at least of the spectacular rise in the incidence of juvenile delinquency may be due to this cause. For whereas, in my boyhood, there was a much greater readiness on the part of law-abiding adults, as well as policemen, to deal with such temporary childish outbreaks themselves and, by a clip of the ear or even a sound thrashing to dispose of the trouble at once and probably for all time, there has been of recent years so much sentimentality on the Bench, and such a grave increase in what J. H. Bagot terms "resentment of disciplinary measures taken by others," that the private individual, confronted with a mischievous boy who has damaged or stolen his property, prefers, rather than a prosecution for assault or an admonishment from a tearful magistrate, to give the child to the police and make a definite charge. And, where the police themselves are concerned, every member of
In the case of a few spontaneous displays of mischief on the part of a growing boy or girl, however, such conduct is not only psychologically mistaken, but it is also unnecessarily circumlocutionary, expensive and exorbitant. What is even worse, by causing the child to be sent to a remand home awaiting, or after, trial, it may introduce him or her to genuine delinquents and may also acquaint him or her with food and other conditions so much superior to those at home, that the experience may be thought worth repeating.
Thus, J. H. Bagot writes, "children from very poor homes may be more comfortable in the remand home than at home and may not, therefore, feel the force of the treatment as it was intended." (Punitive Detention, p. 76). Whilst, elsewhere, he makes this very profound and significant statement the only one of its kind I have been able to discover: "Whereas it was once quite common for the policeman to deal summarily with boys found committing some minor offence, he is now compelled to deal formally and according to the law with every case." Compelled by whom? By our sentimental legislature and social reformers of course! So much for incompetent busybodies interfering in matters they do not understand!
It is all too obvious and hardly required stating. Only modern mental defectives entrusted with the task of legislation and the handling of children could be blind to it. Still, in order to make the point perfectly clear, I will give a striking illustration of what I mean by relating a personal experience.
About the year 1909, when I was engaged chiefly in lecturing and writing about Friedrich Nietzsche's works, I happened to be in Edinburgh. After delivering a lecture there, I was introduced to a handsome, dark, fiery and very intelligent-looking Scot, who then and there invited me to his house. He had a charming wife and two delightful children,
This man remained a close friend of mine until his death in February, 1944 thirty-five years and I learned to think more and more highly of him with every year that passed. His children were well brought up and turned out successful in the callings they chose; he was himself a self-educated man of wide erudition, a writer and a poet of no mean attainment, and was deeply respected by all who knew him. And yet it was only three years after his death that I learned from his son, in a letter I still possess, that he had started his self-made career as a boy of eleven by running away from school after having struck his schoolmaster over the head with a poker!
How different might his life have been had he committed this deed in an English school of the present day, after the institution of Juvenile Courts and the total suppression of the summary treatment of such offences by adults who are men of the world!
This example alone should suffice to illustrate my meaning in this section, and enable the reader to appreciate how probable it is that a part at least of the recent rise in the incidence of juvenile delinquency may be due to the ponderous and unenlightened attitude which to-day is too often adopted by responsible adults and officials when dealing with what perhaps is merely a spontaneous outbreak of waywardness with no deep roots in the character of the child concerned.
(3) As to the excessive random breeding of disparate types, this is an evil to which I have long been calling attention without yet, however, having received the slightest response either from the general public or from the official world. I first described the consequences of this evil in my Choice of a Mate in 1934, and again elaborated them in my Four Pillars of
The facts which are established are, briefly stated, as follows:
Where random breeding of disparate types and stocks takes place on the vast scale it does in England generation after generation, it is quite as impossible to expect harmony of functioning in the individual body as to expect serene, steady and smooth functioning in the individual mind. For, owing to the peculiar mechanisms of inheritance there is no such thing as a perfectly harmonious blend of unlike parental characters in the offspring. Different parts of the organism are inherited independently from either parent, i.e., one organ or part of an organ may derive from, say, the tall, thin, schizothyme parent, for example, and another organ or part of an organ may, in the same child, derive from the broad, squat, cyclothyme parent. It is all quite incalculable and uncontrollable. But it inevitably involves disharmonies which may interfere with health to any extent, from the causing of merely minor and hardly observable, to grave and even lethal discord and dysfunction.
But what happens to the body is necessarily reflected in its nervous controls and ganglia. If, therefore, there is conflict in the former, as there must be in people random-bred from disparate parents and stocks, it follows that there is also conflict, of varying degrees of gravity, in the psychological equipment.
I need only mention, for instance, that four different parts of the human nose may be independently acquired from either parent or their stocks, in order to give the reader some idea of the confusion likely to arise, and incidentally to shed light on the fact that people who are consistently random-bred in this way are proverbially ugly.
Now, what is most noticeable about the whole of the population of England to-day, and actually conspicuous in those parents who are wont to drag their 'uncontrollable'
These, however, are but the outward and visible signs of a condition which extends throughout the whole of the psycho-physical organism of the modern man. To suppose that these ugly masses, high and low, can be free from mental conflict would be as fantastic as to suppose that a motor-car composed of spare parts derived from totally different models and manufacturers would be able to function without a flaw.
What, then, must be the result of all this psycho-physical disharmony and conflict?
The inevitable result is that hardly anyone to-day is really well-balanced. Owing to the constant internal friction occasioned by disharmonies which are congenital, most people in our modern world are, quite apart from the exigencies of our complicated existences, "on edge," irascible, easily perturbed, quickly thrown off their balance. And since this disability afflicts not only parents who for their part were also random-bred from disparate stocks, but also their children, it follows that, over and above the adverse effects of a faulty up-bringing and of the other causes of aberrance examined in this book, modern children are already, in themselves, as living engines, inclined to go off the rails on the slightest provocation.
Conflict is everywhere, both in their bodies and their minds, and this naturally disposes them to become disorientated, if not actually unsteady and wayward, if the slightest stimulus to aberrant behaviour be superadded. When, therefore, we have, in the modern child, a creature
Unfortunately, the remedy here is hard to apply because, in the first place, it involves a long-term policy (always hateful to people who have become through Beecham's Pills accustomed to quick results), and, secondly, and above all, because it would mean altering the whole of the present attitude of the adult population of this generation and the generations to follow towards the matter of mating.
It is my conviction, however, that the problem of restoring sanity, natural dignity, and health to the population as a whole will sooner or later have to be approached from this angle, although before this happens so much false doctrine and archaic myth in regard to human love and pairing will have to be ruthlessly scrapped, that we cannot reasonably hope for a speedy consummation of this end.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that, in dealing with difficult, problem, or delinquent children, it would be unscientific wholly to neglect this factor of friction and disharmony in present-day people, and to all those who question its relevancy, I cannot help recommending a visit to any Borstal Institution or Reformatory, where the arresting ugliness of the majority of the inmates can hardly fail to make sceptics consider my point of view with greater sympathy and understanding.
Since this question fringes that of health in general, it may be opportune to explain here to the reader unacquainted with my previous works why I have not so far dealt with diet and hygiene in the upbringing of children, and why no reference to these matters occurs in this book. The reasons
I know that both Locke and Spencer, to mention only two of the more famous educationists, very wisely included in their treatises detailed instructions for maintaining the health of the growing child. I consequently regret the more my inability to deal, even in the briefest terms, with this all important question. I can but refer the reader to such of my books as already contain my treatment of it, and these, in addition to that mentioned above, are my Health and Education through Self-Mastery, The Future of Woman, and The Truth about Childbirth.
Nevertheless, I am sufficiently alive to the effects of health on character and on the ability to acquire a mastery of life, to appreciate that where sick, defective or ill-constituted children are concerned, the rules that apply to the healthy cease to be relevant. I agree with Herbart when he says, "Education cannot be effective if the educator constantly has to make allowances for ill-health." (Op. cit., p. 192). I would, therefore, beg the reader to bear in mind, when reflecting on the arguments and suggestions in the last four chapters, at least, that they were written wholly with the healthy and well-constituted child in mind and apply to no other.
In view of all I have said about random breeding and its harmful effects-on harmonious psycho-physical functioning, the reader may pertinently ask, "Are there any healthy and well-constituted children alive in this island to-day?"
I acknowledge the force of this objection and can only reply that we must at least assume a certain standard of relatively good health when compiling a set of educational rules for the many. It may indeed be true that perfect health is no longer possible in the Age to which we unfortunately belong.