Page:American Journal of Psychology Volume 21.djvu/280

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ent case, to admire, excite, and develop prematurely the child’s eager desire for learning, and thereby develop an unnatural blasè state and a precociousness masking a neurosis. In such cases the parents must look after their own complexes and complex tendencies and not make capital out of them at the expense of the child. The idea should be dismissed once for all that children are held in bondage by, or that they are the toys of, their parents. They are characteristic and new beings. In the matter of enlightenment on things sexual it can be affirmed they suffer from the preconceived opinion that the truth is harmful. Many neurologists are of the opinion that even in grownups enlightenment on their own psychosexual processes is harmful and even immoral. Would not the same persons perhaps refuse to admit the existence of the genitals themselves?

One should not, however, go from this extreme of prudishness to the opposite one, namely that of enlightenment á tout prix, which may turn out as foolish as it is disagreeable. In this respect I believe the use of some discretion to be decidedly the wiser plan; still if children come upon any idea, they should be deceived no more than adults.

I hope, ladies and gentlemen, that I have shown you what complicated psychic processes the psychanalytic investigation reveals in the child, and how great is the significance of these processes for the mental well-being as well as for the general psychic development of the child. What I have been unable to show you is the universal validity of these observations. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to show this for I do not know myself how much of it is universally valid. Only the accumulation of such observations and a more far-reaching penetration into the problem thus broached will give us a complete insight into the laws of the psychic development. It is to be regretted that we are at present still far from this goal. But I confidently hope that educators and practical psychologists, whether physicians or deep-thinking parents, will not leave us too long unassisted in this immensely important and interesting field.

  • 1. Freud. Die Traumdeutung, II Auflage, Deuticke, Wien, 1909.
  • 2. — —. Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre, Band I & II, Deuticke, Wien.
  • 3. — —. Analyse der Phobie eines 5 jahrigen Knaben. Jahrbuch für Psychoanalytische u. Psychopathologische Forschungen, Band I, Deuticke, Wien, 1908.
  • 4. Jung. Diagnostische Associationsstudien, Band I, Barth, Leipzig, 1906.
  • 5. — —. Die Psychologische Diagnose des Thatbestandes. Carl Marhold, Halle, 1906.