By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Handicaps of Childhood
Author: Bruce, H. Addington (Henry Addington)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Handicaps of Childhood" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

book was produced from images made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library.)

    |                    Note:                       |
    |                                                |
    | Text around word like _this_ indicates italics.|



    Author of "Psychology and Parenthood," "The
    Riddle of Personality," etc.



    COPYRIGHT, 1917, BY



It is my hope that this book will be read as a companion-volume to
"Psychology and Parenthood," it being designed to amplify and supplement
that earlier work. Its general aim, accordingly, is to present
additional evidence in support of the central doctrine of "Psychology
and Parenthood,"--namely, that, in view of the discoveries of modern
psychology with regard to individual development, the mental and moral
training of children by their parents ought to be begun earlier, and be
carried on more intensively, than is the rule at present. But whereas in
"Psychology and Parenthood" the emphasis was chiefly on the importance
of early mental training, the chief concern of the present book is to
demonstrate the importance of early training in the moral sphere.

Everybody, of course, is more or less aware that lifelong character
defects may result from parental neglect to develop in children such
qualities as unselfishness, self-confidence, and self-control. But few
really appreciate that, by this neglect, children are burdened with
handicaps which, persisting into adult life, may imperil not alone the
winning of success and happiness, but health itself. And, among parents,
comparatively few are sufficiently alert to the danger signals giving
warning that such handicaps of perhaps catastrophic significance are being
needlessly imposed on their children. Eccentricities of behaviour in
children--such as jealousy and sulkiness--are too often ignored as being
of no particular account, or are sadly misinterpreted by parents, with
perhaps dire consequences to the children's whole careers.

These eccentricities and their possible consequences, these danger signals
and handicaps, form in the main the subject-matter of the pages that
follow. Desiring the book to be helpful to as many people as possible, I
have been careful to avoid writing in any technical scientific way, and
have tried to be simple and concrete. For this reason many illustrative
cases from real life are given, my belief being that I could thus present
most convincingly the truly remarkable facts with which the successive
chapters have to deal. The result, I sincerely trust, will be to
contribute in some degree to save children from the handicaps in question,
and to assist adults now afflicted with any of these handicaps to overcome

In large part, this book has already appeared in the columns of several
magazines. To the editors of these magazines--_The Century Magazine_,
_Good Housekeeping Magazine_, _McClure's Magazine_, _Harper's Bazar_,
_Every Week_, and _The Mother's Magazine_--I owe grateful acknowledgment
for the opportunity to acquaint their readers with the discoveries and
theories herein set forth. I am also under a debt of gratitude to numerous
psychological and medical friends for advice and information. And, as in
the case of all my previous books, I am particularly indebted to my wife
for inspiration, encouragement, and innumerable helpful suggestions.


    Cambridge, Massachusetts,
    _July_, 1917.


    CHAPTER                                   PAGE

    PREFACE                                     v

    I MENTAL BACKWARDNESS                       3

    II THE ONLY CHILD                          37

    III THE CHILD WHO SULKS                    63

    IV JEALOUSY                                99

    V SELFISHNESS                             131


    VII STAMMERING                            207


    IX "NIGHT TERRORS"                        271

    X IN CONCLUSION                           303

    INDEX                                     307




Once upon a time, not many years ago, a distinguished French psychologist
paid a visit to a Parisian public school. It was accounted an excellent
school, and its principal beamed with pardonable pride when the visiting
psychologist, Doctor Alfred Binet, explained that he would like to see
the pupils at work. Forthwith his desire was granted, and for a time he
attentively followed the exercises of a class of forty children. He said
little by way of comment, until, toward the close of the lesson-hour, he
abruptly inquired:

"Which of these pupils do you consider the most intelligent?"

"That boy yonder," the master answered, nodding toward a pleasant-faced
youngster who was diligently reading his book.

"And, pray, how old is he?"

"He is twelve."

"That, I suppose, is the average age for the class?"

"Well, no. I should say that they are on the average ten years old."

"What, then, is this twelve-year-old boy doing among them? If he is so
bright, why is he lingering among these little ones? My dear sir," the
psychologist continued, while the principal stood in abashed silence,
"would it not be nearer the mark to call him a backward instead of a
bright child? And would it not be well to search for the cause of his
backwardness and try to remedy it? Assuredly, this boy should constitute
for you a delicate problem that insistently demands solution."

This, I say, happened not many years ago. For that matter, incidents quite
like it occasionally happen even to-day, testifying to the inability of
some teachers to appreciate the presence, let alone the significance, of
the laggard in the schoolroom. But in the brief period that has elapsed
since Alfred Binet began his epoch-making investigations in the schools
of Paris, there has undoubtedly been a genuine and widespread awakening
in respect to the tremendously important problem raised by the backward
child. Especially is this true of our own land. Nowhere else, perhaps,
have more diligent efforts been made to ascertain the extent and causes
of backwardness among the school-going population, and nowhere else is
greater activity being displayed in the beneficent task of transforming
the backward child, as far as possible, into the normal one.

Certainly, too, it must regretfully be added that there is abundant
reason for this activity. Researches conducted during the past ten years
by American school authorities and by independent investigators, have
revealed an appalling state of affairs. Doctor Oliver P. Cornman, a
district superintendent of the Philadelphia schools, making a statistical
survey of five city school systems, found 21.6 per cent. of Boston
school children a year or more behind the normal grade for their age;
30 per cent. behind grade in New York; 37.1 per cent. behind grade in
Philadelphia; 47.5 per cent. behind grade in Camden, New Jersey; and 49.6
per cent. behind grade in Kansas City. Doctor Leonard P. Ayres, acting
in behalf of the Russell Sage Foundation, investigated fifteen New York
City public schools, having twenty thousand pupils, and found a degree
of retardation ranging from 10.9 per cent. to 36.6 per cent. Scrutiny of
the school reports of more than thirty other cities revealed an average
retardation of 33.7 per cent. Taking this as a fair average for the whole
country, we have a total of between six and seven million American school
children who are a year and more behind grade.

To be sure, this does not mean that all these children are intellectually
deficient, for the term "retarded" is by no means synonymous with
"dullards." Irregular attendance owing to illness or truancy accounts
for not a little retardation. The education of a good many children
is deliberately postponed by their parents, and as a result they are
necessarily behind grade for some time after they enter school. In the
case of many others, especially in cities like New York and Boston,
where there is a large foreign-born population, ignorance of the English
language is a sufficient cause for temporary retardation. Thus, I have
received a letter from Doctor William H. Maxwell, superintendent of
schools, New York City, in which he points out that many New York school
children are recently arrived immigrants, coming from a foreign country,
considerably above the age at which school-going usually begins. The
personal inefficiency of teachers is also a factor to be reckoned with.
Many a child becomes a "repeater" simply because he has had a poor teacher.

Nevertheless, when every possible allowance is made, the results of
the investigations by Doctor Ayres, Superintendent Cornman, and their
co-workers sum up to a deplorable showing. It is a showing, however,
with one distinctly redeeming feature. Readers of my previous book,
"Psychology and Parenthood," will remember it was there pointed out that
the proportion of juvenile delinquents who are "born bad," and for whom no
remedial measures will avail, is exceedingly small. There is reason for
saying precisely the same thing with regard to the retarded child.

He may be dull, stupid, to all appearance hopelessly defective, but
the researches of the past decade, the fruits of the mind-developing
experiments that have gone apace with the discovery of the extent to which
backwardness prevails, leave no doubt that in most cases the child who is
a true dullard may be brought almost, if not fully, to normal intellectual
activity, provided he is taken in hand at an early day. In fact, even the
most pessimistically inclined investigators admit that, at an outside
estimate, not more than 2 per cent. of backward children are backward
because of incurable defects of the brain. Many present-day authorities
put the figure as low as 1 per cent., and my own belief is that even this
is too high a proportion.

Undoubtedly--and especially since the invention of psychological tests
to determine the mental state of dullards--many children have been
erroneously pronounced feeble-minded when their backwardness is in reality
due to remediable causes. The trouble is not with the tests so much as
with the inexperience of those who apply them, some of the tests being
seemingly so easy of application that in many instances they have been
utilised by teachers and others having little or no training in clinical
psychology. This is particularly true concerning the application of the
much-talked-about Binet-Simon method of mental diagnosis, devised by
Doctor Alfred Binet and his colleague in scientific child study, Professor

The Binet-Simon method is certainly simple enough, and, rightly used, is
of great value. It was formulated by putting to hundreds of children,
ranging in age from three to thirteen, a series of questions and commands
of increasing difficulty, noting the results obtained, and selecting as
"norms" for each age the questions and commands to which the majority
of the children of that age were able to respond correctly. Thus it
furnishes a convenient means for determining with considerable accuracy
the degree of mental retardation of any particular child. Experience has
shown, though, that its fixed standard, by which children are pronounced
"mentally defective" if they fall three years behind the norm for their
age, is not always an infallible guide. When the method is applied by the
untrained investigator the result is sometimes absurd.

For instance, in one American city 49.7 per cent. of six hundred retarded
children tested by the Binet-Simon method were reported as being
"feeble-minded," while 80 per cent. of three hundred children in the
special classes of another city school system were similarly stigmatised.
On such a basis we should have, among the six million retarded children
in our schools, from three to nearly five million who are feeble-minded.
Even if the Binet-Simon testing is done by an expert, there is always the
danger of incorrect diagnosis, with resultant serious injustice to the
child tested, unless the indications drawn from the testing are verified
by careful clinical and laboratory investigation. A few cases from the
experience of a well-known clinical psychologist, Doctor J. E. Wallace
Wallin, director of the Psycho-Educational Clinic, Board of Education, St.
Louis, may well be cited to illustrate and emphasise this important truth.

There was once brought to Doctor Wallin a pupil in a private school, an
attractive girl of seventeen, who was studying--or, rather, attempting to
study--Latin, history, algebra, and English. Her teacher complained that
she could remember little or nothing of what was taught her, that her
attention flagged easily, and that in other ways she did not seem to be
of normal mentality. And, in fact, tested by the Binet-Simon method she
graded only eleven and a half years old.

Had the psychological inquiry into her condition stopped there, she would
have been declared a fit subject for institutional care, according to the
Binet-Simon rating. But Doctor Wallin insisted on additional and different
testings, and presently made the significant discovery that her trouble
lay, not in any structural brain defect, but in a functional weakness of
the nervous system that caused her to become fatigued at slight mental
exertion. She was, in short, a "psychasthenic," and needed only proper
treatment by a skilled neurologist to be put into condition to profit from
her lessons as her schoolmates did.

So, too, with a man of twenty-eight, who, tested by the Binet-Simon
system, displayed the mentality of a boy of twelve. Had he been in the
hands of an investigator who knew no more of the technic of psychological
examination than the Binet-Simon scale, he would unhesitatingly been
classified as feeble-minded. But, as Doctor Wallin said, in discussing the

"He did not impress me at all as being feeble-minded. His appearance,
speech, and conduct suggested the polished and cultivated gentleman. I
put him through approximately thirty sets of mental tests [other than
twenty-five individual Binet tests] and thirty moral tests. These tests
demonstrated that there was a considerable difference in the strength of
his different mental traits. Some traits were on the twelve-year plane,
some on the fifteen-year, and some on the adult plane. In some mental
tests he did as well as college men. He passed correctly practically all
of the moral tests.

"His was indeed a case showing more or less deficiency in respect to
various mental traits. But, contrary to the Binet rating, the man was not
feeble-minded. It eventually developed that a sexual complex was at the
root of his trouble."

Again, with the express purpose of determining the reliability or
unreliability of the Binet-Simon tests as sufficient indicators of the
mental status, Doctor Wallin applied these tests to several successful
farmers and business men. The results were surprising and amusing. He
tells us:

"The 1908 scale was administered according to my own Guide,[1] and the
1911 according to Goddard's version, which is usually used in this
country for diagnosing feeble-mindedness. The subjects were generously
rated in the tests; i.e., full credit was given for some responses that
did not quite meet the technical passing requirements. Measured by the
standards of one of the best rural communities of the country, socially
and industrially considered, and by my own intimate knowledge of the
subjects tested during the greater part of my life, not a single one
of these persons could by any stretch of the imagination be considered
feeble-minded. Not a single one has any record of delinquency, or crime,
petty or major, or indulges in alcoholic beverages. All are law-abiding
citizens, eminently successful in their several occupations, all except
one (who is unmarried) being parents of intelligent, respectable
children. The heredity is entirely negative, except for a few cases of
minor nervous troubles and alcoholic addiction. No relative in the first
or second generation, so far as it was possible to get the facts by
inquiry, was ever committed to a penal institution or an institution for
the mentally defective or disordered."

Yet, given the Binet-Simon tests, every member of this group, if judged by
the tests alone, would have to be rated as feeble-minded. Here is Doctor
Wallin's account of one of these most illuminating cases:

"Mr. A., sixty-five years old, faculties well preserved, attended
school only about three years in the aggregate; a successful farmer and
later a successful business man, now partly retired on a competency of
$30,000 (after considerable financial reverses from a fire); for ten
years president of the board of education in a town of seven hundred;
superintendent or assistant superintendent of a Sunday school for
about thirty years; bank director; raised and educated a family of
nine children, all normal; one engaged in scientific research (Ph.D.),
one assistant professor in a state agricultural school, one assistant
professor in a medical school (now completing thesis for Sc.D.), one a
former music teacher and organist, a graduate of a musical conservatory,
now an invalid; one a graduate of the normal department of a college,
one a graduate nurse, two engaged in a large retail business, one holds
a clerical position, all high-school graduates, and all, except one,
one-time students in colleges and universities.

"Failed on all the new 1911 tests except six digits and suggestion lines
(almost passed the central-thought test). In the 1908 scale, passed all
the ten-year tests and some higher tests. Binet-Simon age, 1908, 10.8;
retardation, fifty-four years; intelligence quotient, .17. According to
the 1912 scale, 10.6 years."

Doctor Wallin fittingly comments:

"This man, measured by the automatic standards now in common use, would
be hopelessly feeble-minded (an imbecile by the intelligence quotient)
and should have been committed to an institution for the feeble-minded
long ago. But is there any one who has the temerity, in spite of the
Binet 'proof,' to maintain, in view of this man's personal, social, and
commercial record, and the record of his family, that he has been a social
and mental misfit and an undesirable citizen, and should, therefore, have
been restrained from propagation because of mental deficiency (his wife is
still less intelligent). No doubt, if a Binet tester had diagnosed this
man forty or fifty years ago, he would have had him colonised as a 'mental
defective.' It is a safe guess that there are hundreds of thousands like
him throughout the country, no more intelligent and equally successful and
prudent in the management of their affairs. Had he been a criminal when he
was tested, the Binet testers who implicitly follow these standards would
have offered 'expert testimony' under oath that he was feeble-minded and
unable to distinguish between right and wrong, or unable to choose the
right and avoid the wrong."

Truly, feeble-mindedness in an adult or child is not safely to be
determined by relying merely on the results of a set of stereotyped mental
tests. On the other hand, in deciding as to a child's actual mental state
it is far more misleading to depend on unaided observation as a guide.
Yet, since the beginning of scientific investigation into the causes
of backwardness, cases have continually been coming to light in which
teachers and even parents have mistakenly identified curable dullness with
incurable feeble-mindedness, and have abandoned all effort at intellectual
development. Sometimes, consequently, a condition closely resembling
outright idiocy results from sheer neglect, as in one particularly
striking case, for knowledge of which I am indebted to Doctor Arthur
Holmes of Pennsylvania State College, well known for his work in clinical

In this case the daughter of a well-to-do professional man failed to
show normal growth in infancy and was supposed by her sorrowing father
to be weak-minded. Left to her own devices, on the theory that it would
be useless to try to mend the work of Providence, she remained until
the age of eight in a state of seeming imbecility. She could not read
or write, could not speak more than three words, and spent most of her
time gibbering in a corner. Then, as good fortune would have it, she came
under the observation of an expert investigator of mental conditions and
was subjected for a year to careful training. At the end of that time she
"could speak in simple sentences, answer ordinary questions intelligently,
read in a primer, write a few words, and conduct herself in the manner of
a little lady."

In other words, she had been taken in hand in time to save her from a
life of incompetency, misery, and mental darkness. Is it not reasonable
to infer, in the light of this and similar cases on record, that our
institutions for the feeble-minded would be far less crowded than they are
to-day had regenerative measures been likewise applied to their inmates in
early childhood? Indeed, with Professor Lightner Witmer, dean of American
clinical psychologists, I am prepared to affirm:

"I believe that a child may be feeble-minded in one environment--for
example, in his own home--and may cease to exhibit feeble-mindedness when
placed in a different environment. I also agree with those modern students
of insanity who assert that the development of some forms of insanity may
be averted by a proper course of discipline and training. Analogously, I
contend that because a child of sixteen or twenty presents a hopeless case
of feeble-mindedness, this is no evidence that proper treatment instituted
at an earlier age might not have determined an entirely different course
of development."

Also, as in the case of the criminal alleged to have been "born bad,"
mental backwardness has again and again been found to depend on
comparatively slight physical defects--defects of eye, ear, mouth, nose,
throat, teeth--the correction of which often results in a spontaneous
and remarkable intellectual awakening.[2] Or the dullness mistaken for
feeble-mindedness may be due to a generally weakened physical condition,
the result of unhygienic home surroundings, lack of outdoor exercise, poor
food, and so forth. Here is a case in point, reported by Professor Witmer.
It is the case of a little Philadelphia girl, Fannie, the eight-year-old
daughter of Russian-Jewish parents, whose two-room home is thus described
by Professor Witmer:

"The living-room had one window, and contained a table, a few chairs, a
stove, a lounge, dirty clothes piled in one corner, a barking cur, and
many flies. The table was covered with a piece of black oilcloth, and on
this were usually to be found pieces of brown bread and glasses of tea.
No meals were prepared and the family never sat down to table. Their diet
consisted chiefly of bread, tea, and sometimes fish. The bread was always
on the table for the flies to crawl over and the children to eat when
their hunger drove them to it.

"The front of the house looked out on a board fence which divided a double
alley. In the rear was a small back yard. One hydrant at the entrance
sufficed for the different families. There was underground drainage, but
an offensive odour came from the closets. This was the soil in which
Fannie had struggled to grow for eight years. When the school nurse
visited the house, Fannie sat crouched in a corner, her eyes sullen and
dead, her mouth hanging open, her skin showing the poorly nourished
condition. Her eyes were crossed, her teeth irregular, the whole face
devoid of life or interest.

"Fannie had been two years in the first grade of a Philadelphia school,
and had made in that time so little progress that there was no possibility
of promoting her to the next grade at the end of that school year. During
the first year her attendance had been somewhat irregular, but despite the
regular attendance of the second year she had profited little, and had
come to be overlooked because she was thought to be too feeble-minded to
progress in a school for normal children."

Taken to the psychological clinic, she was given a thorough physical
and mental examination. She was found to be afflicted both with adenoid
growths and enlarged tonsils, and was sent to a hospital to be operated
on for these. Later she was entered in the hospital school connected
with Professor Witmer's clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. Here
she remained a year, part of that time attending also one of the city's
public schools. Both mentally and morally she made satisfactory progress.
Her sullenness rapidly disappeared under sympathetic handling. Though "at
first she did not seem to understand affection," by the end of six weeks
"she was the most demonstratively affectionate child in the school."
Professor Witmer adds:

"During the first summer she appeared extremely sluggish. She showed very
little tendency to play, and preferred to sit more or less motionless.
As good food, better air, sunlight, and kindly treatment began to take
effect, she burst forth with such excessive vitality, such exuberant
spirits, that once when I had her before the psychological clinic one of
the teachers asked if the lively movements were not the result of St.
Vitus's Dance. This first outburst of vitality gradually subsided, leaving
her a normally active child."

Undeniably, of course, even though a vicious household environment was
chiefly responsible for this girl's backwardness, the adenoids and
enlarged tonsils were also responsible for it in some degree. Parents
cannot too keenly appreciate the hurtful effect bodily defects like these
may have on mental development. Doctor Ayres, who has made an exhaustive
study of this factor in retardation, estimates that it alone accounts
for about 9 per cent. of the laggards in our schools, and clinical
psychologists are disposed to put the percentage still higher. On the
other hand, their experience with retarded children has led them to the
important conclusion that, helpful as spectacles, the ear syringe, and
the surgeon's knife may be, "after-treatment" in the form of careful
individual training usually is indispensable, if only for the reason that
while handicapped by the bodily defect the child may have acquired faulty
mental habits which need to be corrected before education by ordinary
schoolroom methods can count for much.

This means, manifestly, that many agencies must co-operate in the
regeneration of the curable dullard. How many are sometimes involved may
perhaps be sufficiently indicated by detailing another case from Professor
Witmer's extensive experience, the case of an eleven-year-old boy who was
brought to the University of Pennsylvania's psychological clinic with a
history of five wasted years in school.

Any suspicion that this boy might belong to the ranks of the truly
feeble-minded was dissipated by the results of the exhaustive mental
testing through which Professor Witmer put him. This showed not only that
he was naturally intelligent, but also that he was of an affectionate,
generous, and thoughtful disposition. When, however, a physical
examination was made, ample reason for his dullness was discovered, for it
was found that he was suffering from adenoids, enlarged tonsils, weakness
of vision, and dental trouble, his teeth being decayed and unclean,
with tartar pushing back the gums, which were inflamed and swollen. In
addition, he was stoop-shouldered, had an irregular heart action, and
showed signs of being poorly nourished.

"Before anything can be done to improve your boy's mental state," it was
explained to his mother, "his physical condition will have to be improved.
He should be put under treatment without delay."

Then began a distressful period for the hapless youngster. First of all,
a throat specialist operated on him for the removal of the adenoids and
the hyper-trophied tonsils. After this he was sent to the eye clinic,
where he was fitted with glasses. Next, he was taken to the dental clinic,
where his teeth were cleaned and filled. All the while a trained social
worker kept in touch with his parents to make sure that he would receive
the hygienic care which had hitherto been wanting. In the meantime, he
was allowed to return to school, from which, after the beginning of the
summer vacation, he was transferred to a special school for backward boys.
Here he remained most of the summer, being given individual attention with
regard to his mental and physical needs.

It was noticed at first he was inclined to be quick-tempered and
disorderly; but under the tactful handling he received he soon settled
down. From being puny and delicate, he became an active, vigorous boy,
excelling in the swimming-pool and the gymnasium. At his books he also
made such progress that, on returning to regular school in the autumn, he
was promoted through two grades in less than six months, being then only
one grade behind normal and giving every promise of catching up with the
boys of his own age in another six months.

Altogether, the services of half a dozen specialists in psychology,
medicine, and education, and the expenditure of much time, effort, and
money had been required to get this boy straightened out. Nor is his by
any means an uncommon case. Moreover, like the case of the gibbering girl
of eight, it illustrates another point in connection with the problem of
retardation which should indeed be emphasised--the part played by parental
ignorance and thoughtlessness in swelling the army of the retarded.

Had the parents of this boy appreciated the close relationship between
bodily health and the health of the mind, had they taken alarm at
the first signs of malnutrition and sought the advice of a competent
physician, instituting developmental measures in accordance with his
counsel, their son might not have become an educational "lame duck," and
all the tedious and costly restorative work of later years would then have
been avoided. To be sure, it must immediately be added that maintenance
of his physical health would not of itself have unfailingly operated as a
guarantee against retardation.

For, quite conceivably, he might have been surrounded by an
intellectually deadening home environment, receiving from his parents
neither proper disciplining nor encouragement and stimulus to mental
activity, with the result that when the time came for him to go to school
he would display little capability for, or interest in, the tasks of
the classroom. So frequently is this actually the case that students of
retardation are inclining more and more to rate faulty home training
as perhaps the chief cause of mental backwardness. Thus we find one
keen observer, Professor P. E. Davidson, declaring in an address at an
educational convention in California:

"Parental neglect as a cause, resulting in emotional and volitional
disorder, is emphasised in our cases. Learning in school is conditioned
largely by what Witmer calls 'pedagogical rapport,' wherein a deference
to the prestige of the teacher and the school and a sensitiveness to
its rewards and punishments are such as rapidly to produce a habit of
voluntary effort or active attention. Confirmed wilfulness at home and
undisciplined impulsiveness must undoubtedly figure in the matter of
learning. If the child's organic habit, after five or six years of poor
home training, makes avoidance of the painfulness of effort the usual
thing, we may be sure the teacher in the first grade will have unusual
difficulty in inducing a disciplined attention, and a bad beginning on
this account may establish a backwardness which later may not be overcome
without the individual attention that is impossible in the teaching of
large classes."

Professor G. W. A. Luckey, of the University of Nebraska, listing the
causes of retardation, puts at the foot of his list "bad inheritance,
unredeemable defects, physical and mental," and at the very top,
"ignorance and indifference on the part of parents." Most investigators
would evaluate these contrasting causes in precisely the same way. The
inference, needless to say, is that we need never hope to bring about an
appreciable diminution in the number of retarded children until parents
are more fully enlightened as to their duties and responsibilities. It
is therefore good to find that a nation-wide campaign of enlightenment is
well under way, together with an ever-increasing extension of agencies for
the work of rescuing the retarded and fitting them to achieve success in
the school and in the world.

Eight years ago there were in all the United States only three
"clearing-houses for retarded children." These were the psychological
clinic of the University of Pennsylvania, established by Professor Witmer
in 1896; a civic psychological clinic, opened in 1909, in connection
with the schools of Los Angeles; and the psychological clinic of Clark
University, at Worcester, Massachusetts, established in the same year as a
department of that university's splendid Children's Institute.

To-day, as part of the regular activities of universities and normal
schools, there are psychological clinics in more than a dozen States,
including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Washington. At least four States--Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, and
Pennsylvania--have psychological clinics in operation as adjuncts of
hospitals. California, Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania
have similar clinics in direct connection with the public school system.
Ohio has one connected with a vocational-guidance bureau. And in some
States--such as Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts--psychological
clinics are also in operation for the special purpose of aiding in the
proper disposition of cases brought before the juvenile courts.

Even more rapid has been the development of ear, eye, throat, and dental
clinics for the needs of school children. As an outgrowth, too, of the
discoveries of the past few years, there has been a widespread movement
in the direction of establishing special schools and classes in which the
retarded may receive the care necessary to enable them to make up for lost
time, or, when this is out of the question, to equip them for as happy and
useful a life as is possible under their exceptional mental limitations.
Unquestionably a splendid beginning has been made in the warfare against
retardation--a beginning not surpassed by similar effort in any foreign
land, and certain to prove of great value to the American nation.

But, if it is to prove of the utmost possible value, there must be active
co-operation by the public generally and by parents in particular. Society
must insist on every child being given hygienically decent surroundings,
and parents in the mass must become increasingly alive to their
responsibilities and opportunities in developing the mentality of their
young. To reiterate:

It may be considered as definitely established to-day that the vast
majority of cases of mental backwardness are the result, not of organic
brain defects, not of true feeble-mindedness, but of remediable physical
conditions or faulty training in the home.

It may be considered as established that even seemingly incurable cases
will often yield to expert treatment.

And it may be considered as established that, of the cases which cannot be
successfully handled, a large proportion are cases which could have been
successfully handled had they been recognised and given expert treatment
during early childhood.

Let every parent of a dull child act, and act promptly, to ascertain
from some expert just why his child is dull, and what can and should be
done to overcome the dullness. Let every parent of every child make it
his business to learn and heed the laws of physical and mental hygiene
as applicable to his child, with a view to insuring that the child shall
not be afflicted with preventable mental backwardness. This is one of the
prime duties of parenthood.


[Footnote 1: As given in J. E. Wallace Wallin's "Experimental Studies of
Mental Defectives," 1912, p. 116 _et seq._]

[Footnote 2: For some illustrative cases see "Psychology and Parenthood,"
especially pp. 174-178.]




Fifteen years ago a boy was born of prosperous New York parents. His
arrival was exceptionally welcome, for his father and mother had been
living in dread that theirs might prove a childless marriage. They had
fervently promised themselves that if their fondest hopes were realised
and a child granted to them, nothing that loving devotion could accomplish
would be left undone to secure for the little one the best possible
start in life. As a first step in the fulfilment of this promise, they
decided soon after their son's birth to remove from New York to a pleasant
residential suburb, where fresh air abounded, and where the adverse
environmental influences of the crowded city streets were utterly unknown.

Seemingly, no decision could have been wiser; seemingly, no child could
have been brought up amid more favourable surroundings than their boy
enjoyed in the splendid home they provided for him on a beautiful slope
crested with pines. Yet, despite all the love lavished on him, despite the
prodigious efforts to keep him well and strong, he did not thrive.

Before he was seven he displayed "nervous" symptoms that threw his parents
into a panic. He suffered from "night terrors," he became excitable and
irritable. The eminent physician to whom he was taken made the flattering
diagnosis that the only trouble with the boy was an unusually sensitive
nervous organisation; prescribed sedatives, advised outdoor exercise,
warned against overstudy, and so forth. Unfortunately, he did not also
emphasise the necessity for simplification of the child's environment as
a preventive of nerve strain. Nor did he dwell on the supreme importance
to physical, no less than moral, welfare of sedulously cultivating in
the little fellow the virtues of courage, self-control, and self-denial.
Perhaps he did not think it needful to speak of these things to such
evidently well-bred and well-intentioned parents; perhaps he did not think
of these things at all.

In any event, while acting on his advice as to stimulating animal activity
and retarding brain function, the father and mother continued to minister
to their son's every whim, and eternally busied themselves devising
amusements and distractions for him. In time the "night terrors" were
no longer in evidence; but the excitability and irritability persisted,
and presently other unpleasant traits appeared, notably a tendency to
conceit and selfishness. Naturally, this did not make the poor youngster
any too popular among the few playmates with whom his parents allowed
him to associate, and naturally the parents blamed the playmates for
not appreciating the "sensitiveness" of his disposition. Thus matters
continued until his twelfth year, when his father suddenly awoke to the
fact that, intellectually, the naughty playmates were considerably ahead
of the good little boy. For the first time common sense scored a distinct
triumph over excessive and indiscreet parental love; the governess who had
been unable to handle her self-willed pupil was dismissed, and the boy was
sent to school.

There he has been painfully gaining the discipline--the lessons in
self-mastery--that should have been given him in the nursery. But he
still is lamentably arrogant and selfish; he still finds it difficult to
get along with other boys. Whether his schoolmates will take the trouble
to help him overcome the handicap of his early rearing is questionable;
and however this may be, it is hardly likely that the character defects
unnecessarily acquired during his childhood will be wholly rooted out.

It must regretfully be added that this boy's case is not an exceptional
one. Rather, it is typical of the plight of most "only children," who,
no matter what their advantages of birth, too often reach manhood and
womanhood sadly handicapped and markedly inferior to other children. In a
vague way, to be sure, parents with only one child have long realised that
they are confronted with special problems in child training; but there is
abundant proof that in innumerable instances they signally fail to grasp
these problems clearly and work them out satisfactorily.

Everyday observation supports this statement, and it is confirmed by the
findings of modern medical, psychological, and sociological investigation.
Statistically, its most important corroboration is forthcoming from
the results of a census of "only children," undertaken some years ago
by the psychological department of Clark University in consequence of
certain suggestive indications noticed in the responses received to a
_questionnaire_ on peculiar and exceptional children.

Of the thousand children described in these responses it was observed that
forty-six were specifically mentioned as being "only children," although
none of the queries in the _questionnaire_ asked directly or indirectly
about such children. The presumption was that a number of the remaining
children described in the responses were also of the only-child class. But
even if such were not the case, the total of forty-six was surprisingly
high, since, according to reliable vital statistics, the average progeny
of fertile marriages is six, with an only-child average of one out of
every thirteen fertile marriages; that is, a proportion of one only child
to every seventy-eight children, as contrasted with the proportion of one
in fewer than every twenty-two of the "peculiar" children described in the
_questionnaire_ reports.

Moreover, on dividing these reports into three groups based on the
"advantageous," "neutral," and "disadvantageous" character of the
peculiarities mentioned, it was found that while considerably less than
half of the total number of children fell into the disadvantageous group,
two-thirds of the "only children" had to be put into it. Naturally this
suggested the desirability of a special investigation with reference to
the only child, and accordingly a second _questionnaire_ was issued,
with queries relating to age, sex, nationality, health, amusements,
intellectual ability, moral traits, and so forth. In this way, from
school teachers and other disinterested observers, definite information
was obtained concerning nearly four hundred "only children"--information
which, as finally tabulated and analysed by the director of the
investigation, Doctor E. W. Bohannon, is of great significance to the
parents of every only child and to all interested in individual and racial

The age average of those whose ages were given--nearly three hundred--was
twelve years, including about sixty ranging in age from seventeen to
thirty-five. About four-fifths were of American parentage, while the
proportion with regard to sex was, roughly speaking, one-third male and
two-thirds female, a disparity doubtless attributable in part to the
circumstances of the investigation. About one hundred were said not to
be in good health, and another hundred to be in outright bad health.
In one hundred and thirty-three out of two hundred and fifty-eight
cases the temperament was described as "nervous." Precocity was another
often-mentioned trait; but on the average the beginning of school life
was from a year and a half to two years later than is usual, and in the
performance of school work the _questionnaire_ responses also revealed a
marked inferiority on the part of many "only children."

In their social relations only eighty were reported as "normal," while
one hundred and thirty-four out of a total of two hundred and sixty-nine
got along badly with other children, usually because they were unwilling
or did not know how to make concessions, or were stubbornly set on having
their own way. On this important point Doctor Bohannon says, in detail:

"When they disagree with other children it is usually because of a
desire to rule. If they fail in this desire they are likely to refuse
to associate with the children who cause the failure, and in a measure
succeed in the wish to have their own way, either by choosing younger
companions whom they can control, or older ones who are willing to indulge
them. Many do not care for a large number of companions, and select one or
two for friends, with whom they prefer to spend most of their time.... In
numerous instances ... a marked preference for the company of older people
is manifest, even when opportunity for younger company is present. But
this is no doubt due less to a dislike of suitable companionship than to
their inability to understand and be understood by children of near their
own age. It is plainly evident that they have as deep longings for society
as the children of other families, but their isolated home life has failed
to give them equal skill and ability in social matters. They do not so
well understand how to make approaches, to concede this thing and that."

Of two hundred and forty-five in attendance at school, more than one
hundred "only children" were recorded as not being normally interested
in active games, sixty-two of these scarcely playing at all. "If left
to their own devices," Doctor Bohannon infers from the reports which he
received concerning the inactive sixty-two, "they are pretty sure to be
found in the schoolroom with their teachers at intermission. A number of
the boys prefer to play with the girls at strictly girls' games, such as
keeping house with dolls, and generally come to be called girl-boys."

Effeminacy, in fact, is an unpleasantly frequent characteristic of the
male only child, and was noted in case after case described in the replies
to the _questionnaire_. Selfishness was set down as the dominant trait in
ninety-four "only children" of both sexes, and many others were described
as being unusually bad-tempered, vain, naughty, or untruthful.[3]

These depressing findings have since been confirmed by other
investigators, some of whom have contributed specially to our knowledge of
the state of the only child in adult life. For instance, the well-known
English psychologist, Havelock Ellis, studying the life histories of
four hundred eminent men and women, found the low percentage of 6.9
for "only children," indicating unmistakably the persistence of the
intellectual inferiority brought out by the answers to the Bohannon
_questionnaire_. There would also seem to be no doubt that egotism and
social inadaptability characterise, the adult only child no less than the
immature one.

"In later life," affirms the American psychopathologist, A. A. Brill,
who has made a special study of the only child from both a medical and
psychological point of view, "he is extremely conceited, jealous, and
envious. He begrudges the happiness of friends and acquaintances, and he
is therefore shunned and disliked." Besides which, speaking from wide
experience as a practising specialist in New York City, Doctor Brill
insists that the only child, at any age of life, is peculiarly liable to
fall a victim to hysteria, neurasthenia, and other serious functional
nervous and mental maladies; and his belief, as I happen to know from
their personal statements to me, is shared by other observant neurologists
and psychopathologists, such as Doctors James J. Putnam and I. H. Coriat,
of Boston.

This is a point of special interest, for the reason that recent medical
research has made it certain that the maladies in question are one and
all rooted in faulty habits of thought, usually resultant from errors
of training in childhood. Chief among these errors, according to all
modern neurologists, is an upbringing which tends to develop excessive
occupation with thoughts of self. But this is precisely the kind of
upbringing given the majority of "only children." Here again the Bohannon
investigation affords impressive evidence. One of the queries included in
the _questionnaire_ bore on the treatment accorded the only child when
at home, and it is indeed significant that in about 75 per cent. of the
replies received it was stated that the policy of the parents was one of
extreme indulgence.

"Had her own way in everything," "Her parents gratify her every whim,"
"She is surrounded by adults who indulge her too much," "Humoured,"
"Petted," "Coddled," are some of the expressions frequently employed
to describe the parental treatment. Many of the answers sent to Doctor
Bohannon also testify to an over-anxiety with respect to the child's
welfare that might easily give rise to undue feelings of self-importance
or to an unhealthy habit of introspection. "His mother was always unduly
anxious about him when he was out of her sight," "She is thought to be
quite delicate, and great care is taken of her; she is kept in a warm
room and seldom allowed to go out," "His home treatment has made a baby
of him," may fairly be cited as typical statements returned by Doctor
Bohannon's respondents.

Is it any wonder that the average only child grows up deficient in
initiative and self-reliance? Is it any wonder that, under the stress of
some sudden shock, he reacts badly, allowing himself to be overwhelmed
by it, even to the extent of perhaps becoming a neurasthenic wreck? In
short, can it be doubted that the handicap under which he too often has to
struggle painfully through life is not a handicap imposed by Nature but is
solely of his parents' making?

Sometimes this is all too clearly appreciated in later life by the child
himself, and the parental error is bitterly resented; or, if the sense of
filial piety be sufficiently strong, is splendidly excused. As in this
fragment from an autobiographical statement by an only child:

"Of the selfishness of which a frank woman accused me, my parents were, up
to that time, quite as unconscious as I. She had asked my mother to drive
with her to the home of a friend in a neighbouring town, where the two
were invited to spend the night. My mother declined, on the ground that I,
at that time about nine, could not comb my hair and pin my collar properly
for school in the morning; and as we then had no maid and my father could
at best only have buttoned my frock, the objection seemed insurmountable.
But the family friend called me by the ugly title of naughty, selfish
little girl, and chided mother for allowing me to monopolise her time,
contending that she was making me selfish and dependent.

"Perhaps she was. But I protest that it could hardly have been otherwise,
considering that she had in full measure the world-old desire of mothers
to spend themselves for their children, and only one child to spend
herself on. It had not occurred to my mother, I am confident, that her
habit of ministering to me constantly was pampering; nor had I, in going
to her for services that I might easily have learned to perform for
myself, made demands in the manner of the arrogant spoiled child."[4]

The compelling power of mother-love and father-love must, of a truth,
be recognised in extenuation of the spoiling of the only child. But the
fact of the spoiling remains, and the fact also that when the spoiling
is achieved the parental pride and joy will be turned to grief and bitter
lamentation. The pity of it is that the only child, simply because he is
the only child, ought to be able to grow up healthier, wiser, and more
efficient than other children.

For, as psychologists are insisting more and more emphatically, the
health, happiness, and efficiency of adult life depend preponderantly on
the home influences of early childhood; and, obviously, in a home where
the parental attention can be concentrated on a single child, better
results should be attained than when the work of training involves a
division of the attention among several children. Unhappily, when it is
a question of training an only child, too many parents seem to take it
for granted that training is entirely unnecessary, that their child is
innately so good that he will develop of his own accord into one of the
best of men.

In reality, as modern psychology has made very clear, every child at the
outset of his life is much like every other child, a plastic, unmoral
little creature, exceedingly impulsive and exceedingly receptive, readily
impressed for good or evil by the influences that surround him. Childhood,
to repeat a truism hackneyed to psychologists, but seemingly unappreciated
by most people, is pre-eminently the suggestible period of life. It is
then, when the critical faculty still is undeveloped, that whatever ideas
are presented to the mind are most surely absorbed by it, to sink into
its subconscious depths, and there form the nucleus for whole systems of
thought afterward manifesting as habits. Herein lurks the special peril to
the only child afflicted with over-loving, over-anxious parents.

Their perpetual solicitude for him, acting as a suggestion of irresistible
force, tends to engender in him a mental attitude out of which may
afterward spring, according to the subsequent circumstances of his life,
a cold, heartless, calculating selfishness, or a morbid self-anxiety,
perhaps eventuating in all sorts of neurotic symptoms. If, as a boy, he
is too closely and constantly associated with his mother, the force of
suggestion again, acting largely through the imitative instinct, may lead
to a development of those feminine traits frequently characteristic of
male only children, and often involving pathological conditions of dire
social as well as individual significance. Further still, by restricting
unduly the intercourse of only children with playmates of their own age,
as is often done, one of the finest agencies in development through the
power of suggestion is left unutilised. There is a world of truth in the
lament of the only child from whose autobiography I have already quoted:

"All this carefulness kept me uncontaminated by the naughtiness of
little street Arabs, but it also limited my opportunity to imitate
where imitation is easiest--among those of my own age; it stunted the
initiativeness and inventiveness that might, in normal conditions, have
developed in me; and it left me lacking in adaptability. I sometimes
disloyally wonder if my chances of being a tolerable citizen might not
have been as good if I had been permitted to 'run wild,' and thus secure
for myself the companionship I could not have at home."

Of course, association with other children means at least an occasional
hard knock, and hard knocks are, above all else, what the doting mother
wishes to avoid for her darling boy. She forgets that they are certain
to be experienced, soon or late, and that the earlier her boy is fitted
to withstand them the better they will be withstood. She forgets, too,
that if the suggestions emanating from playmates are not invariably
suggestions for good, they may easily be counteracted, without sacrificing
the advantages to be gained from association with playmates, by proper
training in the quiet of the home.

Always, let me repeat, it is the home training that counts for most. If
the only child turns out well, the credit must go to the parents; if,
alas! he turns out badly, if he becomes a monster of selfishness or a
neurotic weakling, the blame must likewise be theirs.

And now it becomes necessary to add that, if in less degree, the
"favourite child" in a family is exposed to dangers similar to those
menacing the unwisely brought up "only child." That parent of several
children is making a sad mistake if he singles out any one of his children
for special affection and solicitude. The consequences of such favouritism
are twofold, affecting adversely, perhaps disastrously, both the child
unduly favoured and the child or children comparatively slighted. So far
as the former is concerned, the outcome, when the favouritism involves
really excessive love and anxiety, is pretty sure to be much like that
in the case of the average only child. That is to say, there is always
more than a possibility that the favourite child, no matter how good his
inherited qualities, will grow up arrogant, self-centred, and neurotic.

He is usually in less danger than the only child of growing up deficient
in initiative and social adaptability. For, unless his parents constantly
interfere in his behalf, daily intercourse with his brothers and
sisters is bound to impress on him at an early age the necessity for
developing self-reliance and for making concessions to the rights
and susceptibilities of others. On the other hand, because he is the
favourite child and because his brothers and sisters instinctively resent
this, his intercourse with them is likely to be attended with more than
the usual amount of friction. Thereby an additional stress will be put
on a nervous system already more or less strained by the fussing and
fretting of indulgent, unthinking parents. During childhood, it is true,
he may not give marked evidence of neural enfeeblement. But, soon or
late, if a kindly fortune does not rescue him at an early age from the
harmful home environment--as, for example, by his removal to a good
boarding-school--one may count on his displaying striking eccentricities
of character and conduct, if not positively pathological conditions.

Consequently, his whole prospects for adult life will be adversely
affected. The selfishness fostered by his father's, or mother's, excessive
devotion may become intensified rather than lessened by friction with
envious brothers and sisters, with the result that the favourite child
passes into manhood abnormally deficient in altruistic qualities, and even
abnormally misanthropic. "A favourite son, a bachelor of sixty-two years,
who was a wealthy retired merchant," notes the psychopathologist Brill,
"told me that whenever there was a rise in the market he suffered from
severe depression and fits of envy, simply because he knew that some of
his friends would make money. He himself had no interest in the market."
And, speaking as an observer who has closely studied the subject, Doctor
Brill unhesitatingly adds that, like so many "only children," almost all
favourite children are in later years "selfish, unhappy, and morose."

It is true there are notable exceptions. Some favourite children are
brought up so well that, aside perhaps from a tendency to nervous
ailments, they display no peculiarities and pass through life creditably,
possibly brilliantly. But such exceptions are conspicuous by their
rarity, for the excellent reason that parents who are wise enough to rear
favourite children well are commonly wise enough not to show favouritism
to any of their children.

For, no matter, how much the favourite child may benefit from the extra
care bestowed on him, the mere fact that he is thus selected for special
attention is sure to work to the detriment of the other children in the
family. When, as often happens, there is only one other child, the effect
on that child may be catastrophic. When the favourite child has several
brothers and sisters there is less danger that any of these will be
really disastrously affected. At best, however, they will chafe under the
injustice of the favouritism shown by the parent or parents; and, besides
instinctively drawing together for mutual consolation and defence, they
may develop a spirit of rebellion destructive to the peace and well-being
of the entire family.


[Footnote 3: Doctor Bohannon's report ought to be carefully read by
the parents of every "only child." It is published in _The Pedagogical
Seminary_, vol. v, p. 475 _et seq._]

[Footnote 4: _Everybody's Magazine_, vol. xv, p. 693.]




Nobody likes a chronically sulky child. Even his own parents are apt to
lose patience with him. In common with outsiders, though in less degree,
they regard his sulkiness as indicative of an unpleasant disposition,
calling for stern disciplinary measures. Seldom do they see it for what it
really is--the result of conditions for which the child is not to blame,
and a danger-signal giving warning that unless a successful effort is made
to ascertain and correct the sulk-producing conditions, the child will
enter adult life under a tremendous handicap.

As I write, there comes before my mind's eye the weary face and form of
an old acquaintance, with whose life history I am familiar. This man,
though not yet in his forties, and with health unbroken by any serious
disease, is nevertheless one of the unemployable. He is willing enough to
work, he affirms, and in his time has had many positions. But he has been
able to hold none of these. There has always developed friction between
him and his employer or between him and fellow-employees. For a few days,
perhaps a few weeks, after gaining a new position, things go smoothly
with him. He is confident, even enthusiastic. Then, for no apparent
reasons, he acquires a "grouch." He conceives the idea that his "job" is
not sufficiently remunerative, or that he is not being treated with due
respect. Sometimes he gives vent to his feelings in words that promptly
effect his dismissal. More often, giving no explanation, he sullenly stops
work of his own accord.

Yet he began life with seemingly excellent prospects. His parents were
well to do and could give him every educational advantage. And in early
childhood he was both a bright boy and a well-behaved boy. A little
later, when he began to go to school, there was a noticeable change
in his disposition. His parents learned that he did not associate with
other boys as readily as might be desired. They noticed that he developed
a tendency to keep much by himself, to be uncommunicative, to smile
seldom--in fine, to sulk. But, though they noticed this, they fancied it
was only a passing phase which he would in time outgrow. They failed to
take his sulkiness seriously--failed, that is to say, to recognise in it
a sign that something was amiss which should be seriously investigated.
To-day, perhaps wholly because no investigation was made and no corrective
treatment attempted, this unfortunate man is finding life a heavy burden.

With all the emphasis at my command I would say, When a child frequently
sulks, it is _always_ a sure indication of mental or nervous stress.
If parents have a child who is sulky, they should neither ignore the
sulkiness nor accuse him of wilful naughtiness and try to improve him
by scoldings and punishments. They should recognise, in his habit of
sulking, evidence of one of two things: either that they are not bringing
him up as they should, or that he is suffering from some unsuspected
physical disability, of which his sullen, morose, peevish disposition is
symptomatic. It may be that this disability is an irremediable one, such
as organic weakness of the brain. But the chances are that it is caused
by functional disturbances easily discovered and easily cured. The parent
is neglecting his full duty to his child if he fail to inquire into the
child's physical condition.

One of the commonest causes of sulkiness is nothing more or less than
indigestion. Everybody knows that if a baby's food disagrees with him
the baby is pretty sure to be fretful and irritable. But parents too
often forget that, in the case of older children, mental and moral
eccentricities may be traced to the same cause. When food is not properly
digested, there is an impoverishing and poisoning of the blood. This
means that the brain is poorly nourished, and a poorly nourished brain
means a general weakening of the power to think and to will. It means,
too, a heightening of nervous irritability, coupled with a tendency to
take a gloomy view of life. Under these circumstances, it is not at
all surprising to find sulkiness becoming characteristic of a child of
any age, as in a typical case reported by Doctor T. A. Williams, of
Washington, a specialist in the treatment of the nervous diseases of

Doctor Williams' patient was a ten-year-old girl, the daughter of a
clergyman. She had been lovingly reared, and until the age of nine had
been easy to manage, vivacious, and happy. Then there came a marked change
in her behaviour. She became easily irritated, had frequent crying spells,
and frequent fits of sulkiness. Besides this, she had difficulty in
studying. Thinking that she had been overworking, her parents took her out
of school, although her mother noticed that she was less inclined to sulk
when kept busy.

What Doctor Williams found, after a long and careful examination of the
girl and questioning of her parents, was unmistakable evidence of nerve
deficiency, due chiefly to faulty diet, and aggravated by "parental
interference, well meant, but entirely injudicious." She had been eating
oatmeal and meat to excess, had been taking her principal meal at night,
and had gone to bed soon after it. Doctor Williams ordered that her
allowance of meat and oatmeal be cut down, that she eat her principal meal
at noon, and that she stay up for at least an hour after her evening meal.
Further, he gave these directions:

"On waking in the morning, the child must make a practice of getting up
at once, instead of ruminating in bed. Parents must avoid criticising her
about trifles, and her behaviour must be left to take care of itself at
present. Her affections should be indulged and reciprocated. She must be
given plenty to do and sent back to school in a few days."

Under this treatment the girl's disposition began immediately to improve.
Within two weeks her mother reported to Doctor Williams that she was as
"happy and joyous" as she had formerly been. No longer was her stomach
being loaded with food it could not digest; and with the removal of this
source of toxic irritation, together with the suggested changes in her
parents' handling of her, she had become a different child.

On the other hand, underfeeding may be, and often is, a cause of
sulkiness, owing to the inadequate nourishment the underfed child's
brain receives and the general weakness of his system. Sulkiness, again,
may be associated with an insufficiency of physical exercise, or with
failure to make sure that the child's living and sleeping quarters are
properly ventilated. Fresh air is as essential as digestible food to the
maintenance of nervous balance. When, as sometimes happens, children are
obliged to spend their school hours in dusty, ill-ventilated classrooms,
when they return to homes with few windows, and these seldom open, and
when they sleep in a tainted, vitiated atmosphere, it is indeed hard for
them to see life in bright colours. Besides which, to prevent or cure
sulkiness in a child, it is not enough to keep school and home well
ventilated, and let the child play outdoors as much as possible. It is
necessary also to see to it that the child is so conditioned that he will
have no difficulty in adequately breathing the fresh outdoor air.

To a physician in a Western city there was brought a boy, nine years old,
with a face so flat, expressionless, and frog-like, that persons who knew
him thought he was feeble-minded. His school teacher reported that his
mind seemed a blank and that he was also hard of hearing. His parents
complained that he was selfish and sullen. The boy seemed doomed to a life
of misery.

But, making a physical examination of him, the doctor found reason to
think otherwise. He discovered no real brain defect. In the cavity back
of the boy's nose he found an abnormal growth of adenoid-tissue that of
itself might account for the boy's stupidity and sulky disposition, as
well as for his deafness. The diseased tissue acted as an irritant and a
drag on his nervous energy; and, in addition, by interfering with the
intake of oxygen it lowered the nutrition of the brain.

The adenoid growth was removed. Gradually the appearance of the
unfortunate boy's face changed for the better. His hearing improved. He
began to take an interest in school work, and studied to real advantage.
Consideration for others took the place of his habitual selfishness, and
he sulked no more.

Adenoids, dullness, deafness, and sullenness often are intimately
associated. The parents of a sulky child will therefore do well to
ascertain whether adenoid trouble is present. Its presence is usually
plainly indicated by the flat, insipid appearance of the victim's face and
by his habit of breathing through his mouth, particularly when asleep.
If there is any reason to suspect adenoids, parents should take their
children to a competent physician without delay.

Further, and on general principles, they should have their children's
teeth thoroughly examined by a good dentist. A child whose teeth are
decayed is a child suffering both from nerve irritation and from some
degree of poisoning, due to his swallowing food that has become infected
by its contact with the germs of dental caries. Such a child has abundant
reason to feel uncomfortable, pessimistic, and sullen. So has a child
whose teeth, if not decayed, are crowded together.

Yet another common, and often unsuspected, physical cause of sulkiness in
children is eye-strain. Most of us are under the impression that when a
person is afflicted with eye-strain he is certain to have painful or, at
least, unpleasant sensations in his eyes. This is by no means always the
case. During childhood and youth there may be no telltale eye symptoms at
all. But defective eyesight may give rise to various nervous conditions;
sulkiness is one manifestation.

An eight-year-old girl, previously in good health, and with no more
nervousness than is displayed by the average child, began to show traits
that worried her parents. She became difficult to control, querulous,
and sullen to an extent that bordered on melancholia. In addition,
she complained of indigestion and headache, symptoms which caused her
parents to take her to a physician for treatment. His medicines and the
course of diet he prescribed did her no good, and another physician was
consulted. Then began for this unfortunate little girl a weary round of
examinations by doctor after doctor. Every means of curing her headaches
and indigestion seemed unavailing, and her nervousness and sullenness
increased apace. Finally, one physician, in spite of the fact that the
girl's eyesight seemed normal, suggested that she be examined by an eye
specialist. Then, for the first time, it was discovered that she had a
serious ocular defect. According to Doctor Percy R. Wood, who reported
the case for the benefit of the medical profession in general, within six
months after she first put on spectacles the girl was entirely free from
digestive disturbances, her head had ceased to ache, and her melancholy
moroseness had given way to normal good nature.

Occasionally sulkiness results from some special form of nervous disease.
It may be an initial symptom of that strange malady of childhood, chorea.
A child affected with chorea is restless, uneasy, and weak in muscular
control. Muscles of the face twitch, the child has difficulty in using his
hands, and, in later stages of the disease, the arms and legs make random,
involuntary movements. In addition, just before or about the time the
muscular weakness begins, there are sometimes signs of mental disturbance,
described as follows by an authority on nervous diseases:

"These symptoms consist of a slight loss of memory and inability of the
patients to apply themselves to their studies as well and continuously as
formerly. Children who were previously of an obedient and mild disposition
become irritable, obstinate, and perverse. They become insubordinate,
lose their love of play, and are not as affectionate as was their wont.
These phenomena are naturally looked upon as indubitable evidences of
wilfulness, and are punished accordingly, thus frequently precipitating
and aggravating the course of the disease."

Happily, sulkiness, as an early symptom of chorea, or of other grave
nervous and mental disorders, is of comparatively infrequent occurrence.
The things the parents of a sulky child need more particularly to inquire
into are the amount and character of the food the child eats, the state
of his digestion, his habits of exercise, the ventilation of the rooms
in which he spends most of his time, the condition of his nose, mouth,
and teeth, and his ability to see and hear distinctly. But it must be
admitted that any or all of these common physical causes of sulkiness may
be present, and the afflicted child nevertheless contrive to get along
without sulking. And, on the opposite, when a child thus afflicted does
sulk, the correction of the physical trouble is not always followed by a
cessation of the sulkiness. For, precisely as in the case of the child
who remains mentally backward after the correction of bodily defects
responsible for his backwardness, it may be that a habit of sulking has
become established. What is much worse, it may also be that the sulky
child has a home environment that makes sulking almost inevitable.

Here we come to the central fact in the whole problem of sulkiness,
for, nine cases out of ten, it is the home environment--the training a
child receives, the parents' attitude towards him--that is primarily
responsible for his sulking. The healthiest child in the world will sulk
if his parents surround him with a sulk-breeding environment. He will sulk
because _it is child nature to react appropriately to the suggestions
received from the environment_. Every psychologist will bear out this
statement. It also finds confirmation in the everyday experiences of all
observant persons who have an opportunity to study children. It is all
very well to exhort a child to be cheerful, to speak of "developing his
will-power." But if the child's home surroundings are such as to fill his
mind with depressing, disturbing ideas, he is bound to be influenced in
his behaviour by these ideas. Parents are prone to forget this. They blame
the sulky child when, in all justice, they ought to blame themselves.

Recently a veteran New England school teacher, talking with me on this
question of sulkiness, said:

"There are times when I am tempted to believe that the home influence is
_everything_, and that conditions of physical ill health have virtually
nothing to do with sulkiness. Of course, I know that in reality physical
conditions have to be taken into account, but my experiences with sulky
children have been such that now, whenever I find a sulky child, I ask
myself the question, 'What is wrong in that child's home?' If I have
opportunity to investigate, I invariably find that something is wrong.

"My pupils are girls, eight and nine years old. Among them last year
was one bright, attractive-looking little girl, to whom I felt drawn
when she first appeared in the class. But I soon discovered that she was
a difficult child. She neglected her school work, did in a careless,
indifferent manner whatever she was obliged to do, and sulked at slight
provocation. She had been examined by the school physician, who gave her a
clean bill of health. My suspicion deepened that the child was the victim
of an unfavourable home influence, and one day I suggested this to the
principal of the school.

"'I am sure you are wrong,' said he. 'I happen to know the family. They
are first-rate people, in good circumstances.'

"A little later, after I had again spoken to him of the girl's misconduct
and sullenness, he told me:

"'You were right and I was wrong. Outwardly, everything seemed well with
that family. But I now find that the parents have for some time been on
the verge of seeking a divorce. They are bitter against each other and
dispute over the child, giving her contrary orders. The mother will tell
her to do something, the father will tell her not to do it. No wonder she
is sullen and hard to deal with. She is to be taken from them and put in a
good home.'

"This is an extreme instance, I have no doubt. But it is in line with
what I am observing all the time. Therefore, I insist that sulkiness in
children is, as a rule, a sure sign of unwise training in the home."

Many parents, though wholly unappreciative of the fact, inspire sulkiness
in their children by setting them an example of sulkiness. A striking
instance has lately come under my personal observation, in the experience
of a mother who is continually being annoyed by the whining, sulky ways
of her four-year-old daughter. She scolds the girl, she spanks her, but
all to no good. Not once does it seem to occur to the mother that possibly
her own habit of sulking when things do not go right may be blamed for the
sulkiness of her child. She is precisely the kind of woman to whom the
learned Professor Paul Dubois addresses these scathing words:

"You, madam, who complain of the irritability of your little girl, could
you not suppress your own?... Remember the proverb, 'The fruit does not
fall far from the tree.'"

This factor of example in the causing of sulkiness is something that
parents frequently ignore. In a general way they realise that their
children are likely to imitate them, but they do not appreciate the subtle
force which imitation exercises in forming the mental states and moral
attitudes of the young. Time and again we see parents talking and acting
as though children had no eyes or ears or memories; as though, indeed,
they were beings quite insensitive to the sights and sounds of their

Yet normal children are the most sensitive and the most "suggestible" of
beings. Let father snarl and mother sulk, and little Johnny or Mary may
be pretty confidently counted on to snarl and sulk likewise--unless by
a happy chance Johnny and Mary have playmates or relatives whose lives
radiate sufficiently strong suggestions of cheerfulness to offset the
parents' unhappy influence. Instruction is much, but example is more. Or,
as wise Pastor Witte puts it, "Instruction begins, example accomplishes."

But, if the parental example is good, if the child's physical condition
is excellent, and if he nevertheless is a sulker--what then? Again, it
must be insisted that the trouble rests with some fault in his upbringing,
some error in the parental policy. If there is more than one child in
the family, it may be that the sulkiness is a symptom of jealousy. The
parents should ask themselves in all seriousness whether they have given
this particular child any reason to sulk, by showing greater favour,
or seeming to show greater favour, to his brothers and sisters. Or,
possibly, the sulkiness is indicative, not of jealousy, but of a feeling
of inferiority due to the child's fear that he is not quite so bright
as other children. In that case the parents may be sure that in some
way, however unwittingly, they have failed to bring into their child's
life enough happiness and joy to prevent the feeling of inferiority from
becoming dominant in his mind. Perhaps, for the matter of that, they have
themselves been instrumental in forcing on the child recognition of his
inferior mental status.

There are parents whose behaviour when dealing with a mentally retarded
child is--often quite unconsciously--that of a censorious judge upbraiding
a criminal. They nag, they harass, they urge the child to greater effort,
never questioning that he can of his own accord improve his ability to
learn. Perhaps he is mentally deficient, perhaps he is suffering from
some remediable physical cause of retardation, perhaps the method by
which he is being taught is not suited to his type of mind. To all these
possibilities the parents do not give a moment's thought. The child is
stupid; it must be his fault; he should be forced to mend his ways. So
they pester the little unfortunate. And when to retardation he gradually
adds sullenness, they are more incensed than before. But, in point of cold
fact, whose is the fault? Not the child's, surely. Perpetual nagging is
a first-class means of producing sulkiness in any child, whether he be
mentally retarded, unusually bright, or just a plain "average" child.

Another almost equally efficacious means is untruthfulness on the part of
parents in their relations with the child. There are some parents who
think it not at all amiss to deceive their children. They make promises to
them which they do not intend to keep. They threaten them with punishments
that never materialise. They make untruthful replies to questions the
children put to them. The children are not imbeciles. They note these
broken promises, these empty threats, these untruthful replies. They lose
faith in their parents, and sometimes it happens that their loss of faith
manifests itself in a gloomy brooding, a sullen resentment against the
parents. The parents, on their side, regard the sulky child as maliciously
naughty and evil-minded. Not an inkling do they have of their own share in
the making of the condition of which they complain. They blame only the

Even the practice, common among parents, of telling their children
"white lies" with regard to delicate matters is at times productive of
sulkiness _as a symptom of nervousness due to inner mental conflict_.
Almost every child is at an early age inquisitive about his origin
and the manner of his coming into the world. If his questions on these
subjects are evaded or answered in a fantastic way, the child's curiosity
is likely to be increased rather than satisfied. In exceptional cases
there may result an obsessional pondering of the evaded topic, intensified
when the child discovers that his parents have deceived him. Extreme
nervousness, accompanied with sullenness, is then a likely result. But,
apart altogether from the possibility that nervousness and sulkiness
may be caused by parental deception of this sort, the danger of losing
control over their children is itself serious enough to warn parents to
be straightforward in answering their children's queries regarding sex

Havelock Ellis, the foremost authority on the psychology of sex, does not
exaggerate when he assures us:

"Even if there were no other reasons against telling children fairy tales
of sex instead of the real facts, there is one reason which ought to be
decisive with every mother who values her influence over her child.
He will very quickly discover, either by information from others or by
his own natural intelligence, that the fairy tale that was told him in
reply to a question about a simple matter of fact was a lie. With that
discovery, his mother's influence over him in all such matters vanishes
forever, for not only has a child a horror of being duped, but he is
extremely sensitive about a rebuff of this kind, and never repeats what he
has been made to feel was a mistake to be ashamed of. He will not trouble
his mother with any more questions on this matter; he will not confide
in her; he will himself learn the art of telling 'fairy tales' about sex
matters. He had turned to his mother in trust, she had not responded with
equal trust, and she must suffer the punishment, as Henriette Fürth puts
it, of seeing 'the love and trust of her son stolen from her by the first
boy he makes friends with in the street.'"[5]

Joy is a natural consequence of a child's affection for, and faith
in, his parents. Resentfulness, bitterness, sullenness, are natural
consequences of loss of affection and faith. The parents of a sullen child
must always ask themselves if, through deception of any sort, they have
forfeited the child's esteem for them. They must further ask themselves
if, by intentional or unintentional unkindness of a persistent sort, they
have embittered the child. They must also put to themselves the question:
"Have I in some way erred so as to make my child sullen by the force of a
bad example?" And, lastly, they must not forget to probe, through the aid
of a skilled physician, for possible physical causes of mental and nervous

If they do not adopt this course, if they allow the child to go on
sulking, or if they increase his sulkiness by mishandling him, let me
again warn them that they may be hopelessly limiting his chances for
success and happiness in manhood. Character distortions of some sort are
certain to result; even his bodily health itself may be affected. For,
just as sulkiness often is a product of some physical disorder, so may
it, in turn, become a _cause_ of physical disorder. To sulk is essentially
to be in a disturbed emotional state, and recent scientific research has
established that such states, particularly if intense or long continued,
have a highly unfavourable influence on the bodily organism. This has been
most clearly shown in the case of anger and worry, the former of which
always is, while the latter often is, basic in sulkiness.

All parents, indeed, ought to familiarise themselves with the physiology
of anger and worry. Once really appreciative of the possible bodily
effects of these emotional states, they would, on the one hand, be more
careful to train their children early in emotional control, and, on the
other, would be more chary about subjecting them to conditions involving
emotional stress. Anger--and, equally, worry--is liable, for one thing, to
derange profoundly the workings of the digestive organs. How profoundly
it may derange them has recently been demonstrated conclusively by some
remarkable scientific observations on animals and human beings.

A prime requisite to good digestion is a free flow of saliva and gastric
juice when food is chewed. There must literally be a preparatory automatic
"watering" of the mouth and stomach. Ordinarily, this begins as soon as
food is taken into the mouth--if one is hungry, it begins at the mere
sight of food. But it has been proved that, no matter how appetising the
food, the digestive flow stops almost altogether under the influence of

This was first demonstrated by a Russian physiologist, Pawlow,
experimenting with dogs so conditioned that he could see into their
throats and stomachs. When a dog was irritated--as by showing it a cat
which it was prevented from attacking--the flow of saliva and gastric
juice instantly stopped, and did not begin again for some time after the
dog had been calmed. Even a slight degree of irritability in the animal
was sufficient to stop gastric secretion.

The same result has been repeatedly recorded by other scientists
experimenting with cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, children, and full-grown
men and women. One observer, a medical man named Hornborg, had as a
patient a small boy in whom disease had caused an external opening large
enough to allow a view of the workings of the stomach. Doctor Hornborg
found that if he gave this boy food, after first angering him, his eating
of the food was not accompanied by a flow of the gastric juice, which
ordinarily flowed promptly and freely.

And, besides stopping the secretory processes of the stomach, anger stops
its muscular movements as well, and also the movements of almost all the
alimentary tract. Hence, food eaten during or soon after an outburst
of anger or petulance is not properly taken up by the alimentary canal
for final digestion, absorption, and elimination. Which means, it need
scarcely be pointed out, that every part of the body suffers in some
degree through diminished nutrition. And certain specific discomforts are
likely to be experienced--sour stomach, gastric pains, headache, and so

Equally striking is the effect of anger on the liver. One most important
function of the liver is to store glycogen, or "animal starch," which is
a source of energy when liberated from the liver into the blood in the
form of sugar. Under normal conditions, an exceedingly small amount of
sugar--all the body requires--is liberated. The liberation of a greater
amount is a waste; and, if long continued, its excessive liberation has a
fatally weakening effect on the system, constituting the serious disease
known as diabetes.

Now, as has lately been proved by an American investigator, Doctor W. B.
Cannon, of Harvard University, anger, or strong emotional excitement of
any sort, immediately causes the liver to liberate sugar in excess. Doctor
Cannon found this to be true in the case of both animals and human beings.
Almost always a man examined after he had been angry or excited showed
clear indications in the liquids of his body of glycosuria, or excessive
sugar. Here is Doctor Cannon's summary of one of his most interesting

"C. H. Fiske and I examined twenty-five members of the Harvard University
football squad immediately after the final and most exciting contest of
1913, and found sugar in twelve cases. Five of these positive cases were
among substitutes not called upon to enter the game. The only excited
spectator of the Harvard victory who was examined also had a marked
glycosuria, which on the following day had disappeared."[6]

Further than this, on testing the blood of excited and angry animals and
people, Doctor Cannon discovered that it held in excess another substance
which, like sugar, is usually present in the circulation in exceedingly
minute quantities.

This substance, called adrenin, has some extraordinary properties. It
is secreted by two small glands back of the kidneys. If artificially
extracted and injected into the blood of a human being in any appreciable
amount, it instantly has the effect of creating a sharp rise in blood
pressure, the blood vessels being constricted and the heart beat
appreciably increased. It also alters the distribution of the blood,
driving it from the abdomen to the head and limbs. And for the time being
it enormously increases muscular power and abolishes all feeling of

Exactly similar effects, scientific research has proved, are brought about
by the quantity of adrenin set free in the blood during periods of anger
or other emotional stress. That is to say, not only does anger temporarily
stop stomach action and abnormally stimulate the sugar-releasing function
of the liver: it also imposes an unusual strain on the heart and the blood

Likewise with worry. It affects the heart, blood vessels, liver, and
digestive organs as anger does. Even in the lower animals, and when
occurring in comparatively slight degree, worry puts a stop to stomach
movements and digestive secretions. Thus, in discussing with me the
physiology of worry, Doctor Cannon stated:

"To give a significant illustration of how worry affects animals, as well
as people, I might mention the case of a young male cat, the movements of
whose stomach I studied by the aid of the Röntgen rays.

"For observation purposes, it was necessary to attach the cat to a holder.
He made no resistance when this was done, but kept up a slight twitching
of his tail from side to side, indicating that he was at least somewhat
anxious as to what was going to happen to him.

"For more than an hour I watched his stomach by means of the rays, and
during that time there was not the slightest beginning of peristaltic
activity, the waves of muscular contraction being entirely absent.

"In another instance, that of a female cat with kittens, something
happened to create an anxious mood while the cat was attached to the
holder. Until that moment the cat had been contented, and the work of
digestion was proceeding normally. But now the movements of the stomach
entirely ceased, and the gastric wall became relaxed. Only after the cat
had been petted and began to purr did the stomach movements start again.

"I have observed the same thing in dogs and guinea pigs. A very slight
emotional disturbance is enough to affect their digestion unfavourably."

Affecting specifically the brain, heart, arteries, stomach, intestines,
liver, and glands of internal secretion, worry also has a general adverse
effect on the nervous system.

This adverse effect is unmistakably expressed by the haggard, drawn, gaunt
aspect of the man who habitually worries, and by his persistent sensations
of fatigue. What has happened is that his nerve cells are being deprived
of the nutrition they need in order to energise him properly. When, on
the contrary, the worrier succeeds in changing his mental state--when
he contrives to look at things confidently and contentedly--then, in the
words of Professor George Van Ness Dearborn, there is a resultant and most
beneficial increase in "the operative enthusiasm of the nervous system and
of its affectors, the muscles and the glands."

The moral to parents is obvious. Keep children as joyous and happy as
possible. By instruction and example, start them early in the path of
emotional control. Protect them from needless causes of fear, worry, and
anger. And make special efforts to prevent the development or continuance
of that curious and most injurious mental attitude--the attitude of
sulkiness--grounded in anger and frequently grounded also in sentiments of
worry, envy, hatred, and even despair.


[Footnote 5: Further discussion of this important subject will be found in
the chapter on "Night Terrors."]

[Footnote 6: "The Bodily Effects of Pain, Hunger, Fear, and Rage," pp.




In the preceding chapter reference was made to jealousy as a cause of
sulkiness in children. Jealousy is itself a woeful handicap of childhood,
and may be followed by disastrous consequences of many kinds. It has
even been known to prompt children to acts as tragic as any committed by
jealousy-driven adults. To cite a single instance:

In a small country town there lived a family of three persons--father,
mother, and young son. Comfortably circumstanced, the parents testified
their affection for their only child by loving care and gifts innumerable.
Their great aim in life seemed to be to bring joy and pleasure into his
life. The boy, for his part, reciprocated their love, and, though of a
somewhat nervous temperament, was bright, vivacious, and amiable. There
was nothing to mar the happiness of the family circle, which, to the
delight of both parents, was one day enlarged by the addition of a little

They had taken it for granted that the coming of this baby sister would
be equally pleasing to their boy, then nearly twelve years old. But his
attitude towards her was indifferent, even cold; and, as time passed, he
showed a dislike for the child as inexplicable as it was disappointing
to his father and mother. Also, his disposition gradually changed. He
was no longer high-spirited, but became moody and depressed. He would
sit by himself for hours, lost in mournful reverie. His parents, rightly
suspecting that something was preying on his mind, tried to get his
confidence. He put them off with evasive answers, or brusquely asserted
that he was "all right."

The true explanation came to them in startling and gruesome fashion. Late
one afternoon, his father being absent from the house and his mother
occupied downstairs, the boy made his way to the room, where his tiny
sister was peacefully asleep in her crib. Only a short time passed before
his mother's return upstairs, but in the interval the little one had been
smothered to death by her jealous brother.

Such an instance of juvenile crime incited by the demon of jealousy is
fortunately rare. But it by no means stands alone, and while the hand of
reason usually restrains even jealous children, in no individual case is
it possible to say with assurance that tragedy will not result if jealousy
gets firm lodgment in the child's mind. If for this reason only, parents
should regard with concern any repeated manifestations of jealousy, in
no matter how mild and seemingly harmless a form. As a matter of fact,
however, many parents are not in the least disturbed when their children
give evidence of being jealous. Some parents seem to be positively pleased
at signs of jealousy in their children, interpreting them as proofs of
the ardour of the children's love. One thoughtless mother put it thus:

"My little Jack is so fond of me that he cannot bear to see me show
attention to any other child. It is really amusing how displeased he gets.
He will push the other child away, climb into my lap, and almost smother
me with kisses. If I persist in paying attention to somebody else, he will
pout in the cutest way until I take him in my arms again."

It may, to be sure, be difficult at times to refrain from smiling at the
absurd behaviour of jealous children. Just the same, jealousy is never a
smiling matter and is always something which parents should try to root
out without delay. The jealous child, if uncorrected, is all too likely to
grow into a jealous adult, with tendencies which bring misery to himself,
and which, if it becomes a question of sex-jealousy, may bring death to
others. The parent who fails to attack jealousy when it first shows itself
need not be surprised at any distortion of character or vagary of conduct
that appears in later life. Jealousy, indeed, may have strange and
startling physical consequences. Here, for example, is a story from the
experience of a veteran physician:

"I was once summoned to visit a lady who was represented as being very
ill. On my arrival I was shown to the so-called sick-room, where three
persons were present--an old lady, her daughter, and the daughter's
husband. All of them seemed in good health. When I inquired which was my
patient, there was silence for a moment. Then the daughter said:

"'I am the patient, and my complaint is jealousy. I am jealous of my
husband, and if you do not give me something to relieve me I shall go out
of my mind.'

"This, on the face of it, seemed preposterous. She was a tall, fair,
beautiful woman of about thirty. The husband, on the contrary, was several
years older, a short, swarthy, plain man. It seemed to me more reasonable
to suppose that he might have cause to be jealous of his wife, rather than
she of him. But she persisted in her statement, and declared that she had
good reason to feel jealous.

"The husband insisted he had done nothing to justify her jealousy. She
reasserted he had. In the midst of an outburst, distressing to listen to,
she fell into a queer fit. With rhythmic regularity, she went through
various spasmodic convulsions. At one moment she would stand at full
length, her body arched forward. The next instant she was in a sitting
position, with her legs drawn up, her hands clutching her throat, and a
guttural noise coming from her mouth. Then she would wildly throw her
arms and legs around; after which she would rise to go through the same

"It was necessary to give her a drug to quiet her. I learned that she had
been subject to these attacks ever since she began to feel jealous of her
husband. Inquiring more closely, I found that, quite without reason, she
was specifically jealous of him in connection with a certain woman in the
small town where he carried on his business. Thereupon I advised him, for
the sake of her health and his own peace of mind, to remove to another
town. This having been done, her jealousy abated and the convulsive
seizures ceased."

Of course, this mode of treatment--if treatment it should be called--gave
no guarantee that the jealousy and the consequent convulsions would not
recur under other circumstances. What the jealous wife really needed
was psychical re-education to give her a saner philosophy of life,
enabling her to get a better grip on her emotions, and, through this, to
control better the workings of her nervous system. Here we touch on what
is far and away the most important fact in the problem of jealousy--a
fact unappreciated by too many parents, and, for that matter, likewise
unappreciated by most writers on the pedagogy of childhood.

This fact is that jealousy, being always an evidence of uncontrollable
emotionality, and itself serving still further to weaken emotional
control, may, and often does, give rise to functional mental and nervous
troubles. These may appear during childhood, or their appearance may be
postponed until adult life, as in the instance cited above. In either
event, their underlying cause is always the same: failure to train
the individual during early life to react with calmness, courage, and
moderation to the stresses of existence.

In the case of a person of naturally phlegmatic nervous constitution,
lack of such training does not do so much harm, for the reason that
excessive emotional reactions are unlikely to occur, no matter what the
provocation. But when there is any marked degree of sensitiveness in the
nervous organisation--as there usually is in our land: Americans being
conspicuously of the so-called nervous temperament--the need for training
in emotional control becomes imperative. In the case of persons who have
inherited any tendency to nervous ailments, persons burdened with what is
technically known as a neuropathic diathesis, absence of this training may
be disastrous.

Parents, accordingly, will make no mistake in regarding any persistent
manifestation of jealousy in their children as--like sulkiness--a
danger-signal of real urgency and as indicating a special need for careful
upbringing. Also, they should not be surprised if jealousy begins to show
itself at an extremely early age. Some instances are on record of its
appearance before the end of the first year. The naturalist Darwin noted
its presence in his son at the age of fifteen and a half months. Arnold
L. Gesell, one of the few scientists to make any extended research of
jealousy, found that "infants will variously hold out their arms, fret,
whine, or burst into violent crying, cover their face with their hands, or
sulk, when their mothers caress or hold another baby." From the end of the
second year jealousy is much in evidence, and is most variously motivated.

Commonest of all, perhaps, is the jealousy occasioned by the advent of a
little brother or sister, who is looked upon as a rival for the parents'
affections. Or jealousy may be felt against one of the parents, little
boys being frequently jealous of their fathers, and little girls of their
mothers. Seemingly, they are unable to tolerate the love their parents
feel for each other and would monopolise the affection of the parent
of whom they are fonder. Again, there may be jealousy, sometimes of a
violent sort, with regard to material possessions. Greatly to the profit
of toy-makers, innumerable children have broken their toys to pieces in
jealous rage at another child having been allowed to play with them. So,
too, there may be jealousy with regard to food. A child will often eat
food of which he is not really desirous, rather than see another gain
pleasure from it.

As the child grows older, other objects and situations cause in him the
unpleasant reaction of jealousy. On this point--the shifting causes of
jealousy, through later childhood into adolescence--I cannot do better
than quote at some length the findings of Professor M. V. O'Shea, of
the University of Wisconsin, as given in his "Social Development and
Education," a book of great value to parents and teachers:

"The jealous attitude is manifested most strikingly in children from the
fifth year on, in situations where competitors seek to exalt themselves
in the eyes of those who have favours to distribute, or where the deeds
and virtues of rivals are extolled by outsiders. Let K. begin to describe
in the family circle some courageous or faithful deed he has performed,
or painful experience he has endured, or duties he has discharged, and
C., his natural rival, will at once seek to minimise the importance of
the particular act for which praise is sought, so that K. may not be too
highly thought of. Then C. will endeavour to attract attention to his own
worth by describing more meritorious deeds which he has himself performed.
He cannot easily submit to the attempts of his rival to gain the
admiration of the company before whom he wishes to exhibit himself. But it
is different in situations where K. and C. are united in their interests,
in opposition to other groups. Then C. is glad to reinforce the testimony
of K. regarding his valorous deeds; and the principle works in just the
same way when C. is seeking for favour, and K. is the jealous witness or
the faithful comrade.

"It must be impressed that jealousy is an attitude assumed only by
individuals in those situations in which they are competing for the same
favours. Two children may be intensely jealous in their own homes; but
they may abandon this attitude absolutely when they go into the world and
compete as a unit with other groups. Normally, the jealousies between
members of a family tend to disappear in the measure that their interests
broaden, and they form new connections in the world. That is to say,
according as persons cease to be keen rivals, they tend either to become
indifferent to the successes of one another, or they may even rejoice in
the good fortune of each other, and lose no opportunity to celebrate one
another's virtues and merits. This latter stage is not reached, however,
until rivalry, and so conflict, wholly ceases, and the contestants come to
appreciate that their interests are mutual, and each can help himself best
by extolling the other. This is frequently seen in adult life, especially
in political and professional partnerships....

"As a general principle, the smaller the group of individuals who are
in competition with one another, and the narrower the range of their
interests, the more intense will be the jealous attitudes developed. As
the group increases in membership and their interests and activities
become more varied, particular competitors normally come to occupy a less
and less important place in any one individual's attention. It is as
though the energy which in a restricted situation finds an outlet in one
channel, perhaps, is discharged through various channels when the circle
of persons and the range of interests to be reacted upon are enlarged. It
is probable that most strictly social attitudes become less pronounced,
though they are likely to become more habitual, according as the
occasions which call them forth are multiplied.

"This principle has an interesting application to the child when he enters
school. His new personal environment makes such demands upon his attention
and energy, in order that he may take the first steps in adjustment
thereto, that the jealous attitudes are not aroused for some time, though
they are liable to appear as he begins to feel at home in the new group.
The beginner is usually in the learning or adaptive attitude; he is never,
at the outset, resentful towards individuals in the group who may secure
greater attention than himself from the teacher or his associates. The
novice in school seeks, above everything else, to win the favour of those
who, for any reason, are prominent in the group. He does not normally
oppose his personality to that of any one who stands well with the crowd,
or who has the support of tradition in his particular expressions....

"As the child grows to feel at ease in adjustment to the situations
presented in the school, he commences to assume attitudes of disapproval,
as well as approval, of the expressions of his associates, and even of
the teacher. In due course--often by the fourth year in school, possibly
earlier--he begins to manifest some feeling of jealousy towards those of
his group who attain greater prominence in the work of the school than
he does himself. However, according to the observations of the present
writer, this feeling is not a dominant one at any period in the elementary
school, except in the case of particular children who are displeased at
any distinction in recitations or in conduct attained by their classmates.

"In the fourth grade of a certain elementary school of a Western city
there are three backward boys who have been in this grade for two years,
though they are bright enough in the things of the street. They are in a
more or less hostile attitude towards all that goes on in the schoolroom,
probably because they cannot succeed in it themselves, and so they would
like to escape from it or destroy it. Now, they make it unpleasant, so
far as they are able, for all the boys in the grade who apply themselves
to their tasks and get 'good marks.' On the playground these dullards
'pick on' the 'bright' boys; and in the school they ridicule them by
'snickering' at them, or 'making faces' at them, and so on, with the
result that they deter some boys from doing their best in the schoolroom.
These same three ill-adjusted boys will make fun of their mates who come
to school 'dressed up in fine togs.' They are themselves attired in plain
clothes suited to the rough experience of the street, and they resent the
adoption of different styles by any of their associates. Further, they
show jealous feeling towards boys who come from 'better' homes than their
own, or from more 'aristocratic' parts of the city....

"It will not be necessary here to do more than to mention the chief
incitement to jealousy after the beginning of the adolescent upheaval, and
lasting well on into middle life. The testimony of autobiographers, as
well as the observations of psychologists, indicates that rivalry for sex
favours gives rise to most of the jealous attitudes of the adolescent up
until full maturity is reached. Often, no doubt, it is the main cause of
the jealousies of some people throughout their lives; but, normally, other
and more general interests become stronger and more vital as maturity is
approached. But, from the age of fifteen or sixteen on to twenty-five, or
beyond, the sex needs and interests are supreme, and the individual is
sensitive to sex relations above all others. No pain is so keen at this
time as that which arises from slight or indifference from persons of
the opposite sex, and no experience will stir an individual so deeply as
that which threatens to deprive him of the exclusive possession of the
affections of the one he loves."

Whatever the cause, I repeat, parents should never delay in combating
repeated manifestations of jealousy, in order to make sure of preventing
possible acts of extreme violence, subtle distortions of character that
may persist through life, and neurotic maladies of gradual or rapid
development. To bring home concretely to every parent who happens to
read these lines the danger menacing his own jealous child in this last
respect, I cannot do better than cite from real life a few instances of
nervous trouble directly and demonstrably due to jealousy.

An eminent neurologist had for a patient a young girl whose illness
took the form of frenzied, almost maniacal, outbreaks. It was necessary
at times to control her forcibly, and the fear of her family was that
she was on the highway to insanity, if she were not already insane.
The neurologist noticed that she became most violent when her mother
approached her bed. She would then cry out, strike at her mother, and
wildly order her to leave the room. The mother was in despair at this
behaviour, assuring the neurologist that she could not account for it, as
she had always treated her daughter most affectionately--a statement which
other relatives corroborated.

To get to the bottom of this mystifying case, the neurologist determined
to make use of what is known as the method of dream-analysis. This method
has, as a fundamental principle, the theory that most dreams, especially
the dreams of childhood, represent the imaginary fulfilment of wishes
which cannot be, or have not been, realised in the waking life. In the
present instance, the application of dream-analysis proved most helpful.
It showed that, asleep no less than when awake, the girl's mind was
occupied with ideas unfavourable to her mother, and was dominated by a
wish that her mother were dead. This was indicated by a number of dreams,
in some of which she saw herself and her sisters dressed in mourning,
while in others she was attending the funeral of women who resembled her

Quite evidently a mental conflict was in progress, the girl sufficiently
appreciating the sinfulness of the death--wish to resist its full
emergence into consciousness, even during sleep. But its presence and
persistence, as revealed by the dreams, made it clear to the physician
that he was dealing, not with actual insanity, but with a case of
hysteria motivated by jealousy of the mother. Further analysis disclosed
an abnormal fondness for the father, in whose affections the little
daughter wished to reign alone.

Sometimes the hysteria traceable to jealousy presents symptoms ingeniously
calculated to compel sympathetic attention from the parent who otherwise
would continue to divide his or her affections in a manner displeasing to
the jealous child. Thus, a small boy became subject to attacks of severe
bodily pain, which came on, usually, at night, and were relieved only
when his mother took him to bed with her, sending his father to sleep in
another room. In this case, and in similar cases that have been studied by
medical specialists, it is not a question of conscious deceit. The pain or
other hysterical symptom is wholly the result of the sentiment of jealousy
having so worked on the mind of a neurotically predisposed child as to
cause a subconscious fabrication of symptoms certain to gain loving care.

Likewise, some children, and particularly children of an inferior
mentality or those handicapped by physical defects responsible for a
seeming or real neglect of them by parents and playmates, will, under the
influence of jealousy, become so disturbed nervously as to indulge in
eccentricities of conduct, having for their object the compelling of the
attention they feel they have been denied. For example, jealousy often
is at the root of the pathological lying of neurotic children, who, on
occasion, do not hesitate to bring outrageous charges against innocent
persons. Their purpose is not to injure these persons; they tell their
morbid lies simply because they wish to become objects of interested and
sympathetic attention. For the same reason, other jealousy-dominated
children sometimes concoct elaborate deceptions, notably in the way of
what are called "poltergeist" performances.

From time to time newspapers report stories of haunted houses, in which
small articles of furniture and bric-à-brac are flung about by mischievous
ghosts--hence the name "poltergeists"--that remain invisible. When
investigation is made, the "ghost" usually turns out to be a small boy
or girl, who frequently is regarded as being merely a naughty child, and
is punished accordingly. This is a mistake. It is not naughtiness, but
hysteria. And, not infrequently, it is hysteria brought on by jealousy.[7]

President Hall, of Clark University, who has made a special study of
children's lies, fittingly comments:

"Without knowing it, these hysterical girls feel disinherited and
robbed of their birthright. Their bourgeoning woman's instinct to be
the centre of interest and admiration bursts all bounds, and they speak
and act out things which with others would be only secret reverie. Thus
they can not only be appreciated but wondered at; can almost become
priestesses, pythonesses, maenads, and set their mates, neighbours, or
even great savants agog and agape, while they have their fling at life,
reckless of consequences. Thus they can be of consequence, respected,
observed, envied, perhaps even studied. So they defy their fate and wreak
their little souls upon experience with abandon and have their supreme
satisfaction for a day, impelled to do so by blind instinct which their
intellect is too undeveloped to restrain. And all this because their
actual life is so dull and empty."[8]

Nor does the mischief done by jealousy in the case of nervously inclined
children stop here. It is particularly important for parents to know that
there may be a postponement of its evil effects. That is, though the
jealous child, while a child, may not show more than a general nervousness
and may seemingly outgrow his jealousy without ill effect, it is entirely
possible that in later life mental or nervous troubles may appear as a
result of the subconscious retention of the jealous notions that have
long since vanished from conscious remembrance. I might cite a number of
instances strikingly illustrative of this, but will be content with giving
only one--the case of a man about thirty years old, who did not dare go
outdoors because he was obsessed by a fear that he would kill the first
person he met in the street.

"My life," he told the physician whose aid he sought, "is one long
torment. There are days when I have myself locked in my room, as I cannot
venture on the street with the murderous longings that fill my mind. I
spend much of my time planning alibis to escape the consequences of the
murder I feel sure I shall commit. Is there any hope for me, short of
imprisonment in an asylum for the dangerously insane?"

This man, as his answers to the specialist's questions made clear, was
actually of a splendid character and highly cultured. His one peculiarity
was this dangerous obsession. Psychological analysis to trace its origin
was undertaken, and led back to his childhood. It had, as the setting
giving it force and keeping it alive, a deep-seated jealousy of his
father, experienced before the age of seven. More specifically, it
originated in a murderous wish, entertained one day when father and son
were walking together, to push his father from a mountain-top into an
abyss. The child had at once recognised that this wish was wicked. He
had violently repressed it, had tried to forget it, and had seemingly
succeeded in doing so. But in his neurotic subconsciousness it had
remained alive, to incubate and grow, until it finally blossomed into the
murderous and painfully persistent obsession against people in general.

Surely, it is worth while to watch for and eradicate jealousy in
childhood. Surely, too, it is worth while to develop emotional control in
your children while they still are very young, and to avoid giving reason
for jealousy by showing a real neglect in satisfying their natural craving
for sympathy and love. On the other hand, it is equally important to avoid
being over-attentive to them. This, as brought out in detail in the second
chapter, is the great danger to be feared when there is only one child in
the family, the exuberance of the parental love filling the child with
exaggerated ideas of his own importance that are sure to be rudely jostled
when he comes into contact with other children.

From these other children, as from his school teachers and casual visitors
to his home, he will unconsciously demand the adulation shown by his
parents. Failing to receive it, jealousy is all too apt to seize him,
and, out of jealousy, nervous symptoms or character kinks are a probable
result--symptoms and kinks which may, perhaps, never be entirely overcome.

What, then, is the moral of all this? What practical suggestions may
be made that will help parents to cope with the problem of children's
jealousy? For one thing, and most important, there must be no showing
of favouritism, if you have more than one child. By your whole attitude
towards your children you must make plain to them that each one ought to
be, and is, equally dear to you. Of course, however, this does not mean
that you should go to the foolish extreme of some parents, who carry
the principle of equality so far as to give identical presents to their
children. This does not serve as a corrective and preventive of jealousy;
rather, it simply panders to it, and is, at bottom, a confession of
helplessness on the parents' part.

The real need is to give your children a home environment of such a
character that the instinct of human sympathy will be highly developed
in them. Jealousy has its roots in selfishness, in an over-development
of what may be called the ego-centric instinct. The jealous child is
pre-eminently a child unduly occupied with thoughts of self. His personal
desires and his personal interests are of paramount importance to him,
just because he has not been taught that the one truly self-satisfying
ideal of life is to find joy in bringing joy to others. To be sure, he
cannot be taught this by direct instruction when he is very small. But
indirectly, through the subtle force of suggestion, he can be taught it
even then, if he is given a good parental example.

His parents themselves, not merely to prevent the budding of the
sentiment of jealousy, but for the sake of the child's moral education
in general, must set him an example of unselfishness. In their relations
with each other, with their friends, with casual visitors to their home,
they must maintain an altruistic, rather than an ego-centric, attitude.
Showing true love for their child, they must--and this is especially
necessary in the case of an only child--cause the child unconsciously
to realise that he is not, and should not be, the sole object of their
thoughts; that they have other interests, other duties in life. Unless he
is constitutionally abnormal, a child brought up in such an atmosphere of
general, self-forgetting kindliness is almost certain to acquire the same
healthy philosophy of life that his parents have--a philosophy inimical to
jealousy in every form.

As an aid to the same end, it is important to begin, at as early a time
as possible, to train the child to occupy his mind actively with games
and studies of educational significance. It is a fact which scarcely
needs demonstration that the child in whom love of study and interest in
subjects of study are developed at an early age will be a child unlikely
to become unhealthily occupied with thoughts of himself. He will have too
many and too strong external interests to have either time or desire for
morbid self-communing.

In fine, you may set this down as certain: the more you inspire in your
children external interests in play and work, doing this partly by direct
teaching and partly by setting them an example of industrious activity,
the less reason you will have to fear that they will fall victims to the
handicap of jealousy or to the nervous maladies resultant from any form of
excessive preoccupation with thoughts of self.

If, however, despite your best efforts, your child does develop jealous
characteristics in marked degree, the safest and wisest thing you can do
is to take him at once to a good specialist in the treatment of mental and
nervous troubles. It may be that the jealousy is only the resultant of
some unsuspected error of his upbringing, but it may also be symptomatic
of some serious disorder requiring careful medical treatment.


[Footnote 7: In my "Psychology and Parenthood" pp. 223-227, will be found
the details of a typical poltergeist performance.]

[Footnote 8: "Educational Problems," vol. i, p. 363.]



"Jealousy," I stated a few pages back, "has its roots in selfishness, in
an over-development of what may be called the ego-centric instinct." Aside
from its role as a developer of jealousy, selfishness is indeed one of
the major handicaps of childhood. Moralists have long urged on parents
the importance of early training to prevent their children from becoming
selfish. They have rightly pictured selfishness as among the greatest of
human blemishes, giving character an ugly twist and making impossible
that harmonious adjustment with other people which is indispensable to
individual happiness and social progress. But it is not merely to be
condemned from the moralist's point of view: it also is to be condemned
from the physician's. Selfishness does much more than injure character:
it may even ruin the health of those afflicted with it. To put the matter
briefly, training against selfishness is imperative in early life, if
only as a safeguard against the functional nervous and mental maladies so
common to-day.

When parents fail to teach their children to control their emotions; when
they foster in them exaggerated notions of their importance by giving
way to the children in everything, being over-solicitous about them,
performing duties for them which the children should early be taught to
perform for themselves, selfishness is an almost inevitable outgrowth.
The children, in addition, may become quite unfitted to cope with the
stresses of existence. And they may further become so psychically
disorganised that, if after a time they no longer find themselves always
having their own way, there may develop nervous symptoms which not merely
are the product of an inner emotional storm, but are strangely designed
to fulfil the nervous one's latent wish to remain the centre of interest
and influence. Or, more bluntly stated, nervous attacks frequently are
sheer manifestations of selfishness. It is selfishness that gives rise to
them, and, though the victim may not be at all conscious of the fact, they
represent an abnormal effort of the personality to attain selfish ends.

This is not theory. It is an established truth, and is demonstrable
from the case-histories of many nervous patients, adults and children
alike. And, with increasing use of the most advanced methods of mental
analysis, the influence of selfishness in causing nervous ailments is
certain to become more widely appreciated than it is at present. Not
that selfishness is the causal factor in all nervous cases. It would be
absurdly false to assert anything of the kind, but the proportion of
cases in which it does figure is astonishingly high. Parents need to know
this; they need to recognise that failure to curb selfishness during the
formative period of childhood may mean nervous wreckage, as well as the
distorting of character. In the case of a child of so-called "nervous
temperament"--a child, that is to say, who begins life with an unstable
nervous organisation by reason of inherited weaknesses--nervous wreckage
is almost certain to be the result of neglect to take precautions against
the growth of selfishness. The full effects of parental neglect in this
regard may not be visible for many years, but frequently they become
disconcertingly evident while the child still is young. A case reported to
me by a well-known American neurologist and psychopathologist is decidedly
to the point in this connection, and may well be given in some detail.

It is the case of a girl of fourteen who was brought to the neurologist
because of nervous symptoms which took the form of periods of anxiety and
depression, alternating with outbreaks of great irritability. The girl,
her mother stated, seemed to have lost interest in everything. At times
she would sit mournfully weeping; at others, fall into a passion for no
apparent reason. More than once she had declared that she wanted to die.
She could not, or would not, give any explanation of this most singular

Making a diagnosis of functional, rather than organic, disease, the
neurologist resorted to dream-analysis to get at the hidden causes of
trouble. At his request, the girl related several dreams, all of which had
the noticeable peculiarity that in them the dreamer herself was, to an
unusual extent, the dominant figure of the dream-action. Another striking
feature of her dreams was that many of them had to do with imaginary
experiences of a painful character befalling either the dreamer's father
or her brother. Mindful of the theory that dreams are directly or
indirectly representative of secret wishes, the neurologist questioned
his little patient about her family life. She frankly admitted that she
disliked her father, and was not overfond of her brother. She disliked
the father--or, as she vehemently said, "hated" him--because he scolded
her. Her coldness towards her brother arose from the fact that her mother
had fallen into the habit of tactlessly holding him up as a model of good

"I love my mother, though," she added, "because she is good to me, and
generally lets me do what I want."

Summoning the mother to a private conference, the physician learned
that, from early childhood, his patient had been very obstinate and
self-willed. Her mother, through mistaken affection, had pampered her. She
had literally made herself a slave to the daughter, even to the extent of
giving up evening engagements that she might sit by her daughter's bed,
gently stroking her head until she fell asleep.

"She cannot sleep unless I do this," said the mother, "and though I have
lately tried to discontinue it, I cannot, because she cries and shrieks
until I come to her."

To the neurologist the situation was now perfectly clear. The daughter's
nervous symptoms were manifestly the not surprising reaction of a
personality untrained in emotional control and unexpectedly confronted by
a novel and painful state of affairs--the mother's half-hearted attempt to
break away from her self-imposed slavery. However, it would hardly do to
tell the mother that her early mismanagement of the child was responsible
for the neurotic condition which had developed, and that this neurotic
condition was, in reality, only a subconsciously originated device to
reassert the daughter's waning authority over her mother. What the
neurologist did say was:

"Madam, if you want your daughter to get well, you must at once stop this
practice of stroking her to sleep. I must ask you to begin to-night. Send
your daughter to her room, leave her in bed, shut and lock the door, and
let her shriek. This may seem hard and cruel, but it is actually a greater
kindness than a continuance of the stroking would be. It is, indeed, a
first and necessary step in her cure."

The mother obeyed. For two nights the house resounded with the girl's
cries. The third night she went to bed and to sleep without a protest.
Then the physician once more sent for the mother.

"You are soon leaving town for the summer, I understand," he said. "What
are you going to do with your daughter?"

"Why, take her with us, of course."

"You must do nothing of the sort. Instead, send her to a girls' camp. She
needs contact with other girls; she needs the discipline such contact will
give her. It is far and away the best medicine she can have. Her recovery
depends solely on her developing a new point of view, a mental outlook
that will extend beyond herself. This is what a good camp for girls can
give her."

The outcome vindicated his words. That fall the nervously depressed girl
came back from a summer in camp radiantly happy and with a vastly altered
disposition. Since then her parents have had no trouble with her.

Please, however, understand clearly that she was really a sick girl
when her mother took her to my neurological friend. It was not simply a
question of dealing with a "naughty" girl. The depression, the tears, the
attacks of irritability were not deliberately put on to excite sympathy
and to play on the mother's affections. This assuredly was their basic
purpose, but they were the product of subconscious, not conscious, mental
action. They were the resultant of an emotional stress, the responsibility
for which rested not with the girl herself but with her mother's unwise
treatment of her. If she had become neurotic, it was because her mother
had made her so. What she needed, and all she needed, was psychic
re-education, and this she obtained through the neurologist's common-sense
method of cure.

The fact that such cases are indicative, not of mere naughtiness, but
of the action of an inner force operating independently of the victim's
conscious volition, will become more apparent when I add that sometimes
the symptoms causing medical aid to be invoked are physical instead of
mental. In one typical case of this sort a neurologist was summoned to
examine a small boy who had been attacked by a peculiar weakness of the
legs. To all appearance, he was in perfect bodily health, but when he
attempted to walk his legs gave way, and he would fall, unless quickly
supported. The most careful testing failed to reveal any organic cause
for this condition, and a diagnosis of juvenile hysteria was made. It was
learned that the boy's trouble began soon after he had met in the street a
badly crippled, semi-paralysed man, whose appearance had evidently made a
deep impression on his mind, as he spoke of it, when he got home, in terms
partly of astonishment and partly of fear. There could be no doubt that
the sight of this man had acted as a "suggestion" to cause the development
of a somewhat similar condition in the boy himself. The question remained,
why should the mere seeing of a crippled man have sufficient suggestive
force to bring on an hysterical crippling? For undoubtedly the boy must
have had not a few equally distressing experiences long before this one.

On investigation it turned out that at the time he saw the cripple he
was under considerable mental strain. A petted, spoiled child, he had
rebelled against being sent to school. He would much rather stay home and
play by himself or with his mother. His parents' desires in the matter
were as nothing to him: it was what he wanted that was the important
thing. For once, though, the parents insisted on being obeyed by their
thoroughly selfish boy. He had to go to school, and go to school he did,
until the hysterical paralysis set in. This paralysis, of course, was
somewhat inconvenient, since it limited his opportunities for play, but
it at least had the advantage of keeping him from attending the school
that he detested. The boy himself was not in the slightest conscious of
the part thus played by selfish wishing in the development of his diseased
condition. He was really frightened at finding himself unable to stand
and walk. Nevertheless, so strong was his antipathy against school that
it was some time before the suggestion of paralysis was broken down by
appropriate psychotherapeutic treatment.

Other cases even more extraordinary are recorded in medical annals.
One "spoiled child," a little girl not five years old, had a series of
convulsive attacks, following the unexpected refusal of her parents to
grant a request that involved risk to her if they granted it. After
the convulsions she was paralysed in her lower limbs, and the parents,
terrified, called in an eminent specialist in nervous diseases.
Fortunately, the specialist recognised almost at once that it was a case
of hysterical paralysis, brought on by lack of discipline and lack of
training in emotional control, and he obtained the parents' permission to
isolate the little girl and treat her as he deemed best. His treatment was
harsh, but exceedingly effective. For two days he starved the child, then
put a bowl of bread and milk some distance from her bed. The suggestion of
food was too strong for the suggestion of paralysis. Without further ado,
she skipped nimbly out of bed and secured the bowl. But the specialist
did not reproach her for being a naughty girl. His reproaches were for
the parents, to whom he gave some greatly needed advice as to her future

Hysterical pains, contractures, swellings, even hysterical blindness,
have been observed in children who, after having been unduly indulged,
feel that their father or mother, as the case may be, is no longer as
attentive to and lenient with them as they would like. More frequently,
under such conditions, the symptoms of nervousness are chiefly mental,
or, if physical, are confined to muscular twitchings, slight involuntary
movements of the face, head, hands, and similar manifestations. Unhappily,
the true significance of these is often overlooked. They are thought to be
defects which the child will "outgrow," and in many cases they certainly
are outgrown, to all appearance. But, if the moral weaknesses underlying
them--the self-centredness, the deficiency in emotional control--are not
in the meantime corrected, at any crisis in adult life there is likely
to result a nervous breakdown or a serious attack of hysteria. Indeed,
in not a few cases of adult hysteria, the causal agency of selfishness
is unmistakably in evidence to those accustomed to interpreting nervous
symptoms. There are plenty of men and women whose chronic neuroticism is
motivated by a subconscious craving to be the centre of attraction, or to
be perpetually dominant in the family life. There are other unfortunates
who, when their will is seriously crossed, take refuge, like the boys and
girls just mentioned, in various forms of nervous disease. The curious
experience of a New England physician, Doctor A. Myerson, for some time
connected with the Boston Psychopathic Hospital, is by no means as unique
as might be thought.

This physician was summoned to attend a woman suffering from what was
supposed to be a cerebral hemorrhage. She no longer was able to move her
right arm, right leg, or the right side of her face, and had entirely
lost the power of speech. For many months previous to the onset of this
deplorable condition she had been troubled at irregular intervals by
headaches, nausea, and fainting spells. The patient herself and her
friends had little doubt that she was in so serious a condition that
recovery could not be expected. But Doctor Myerson, making use of the
most up-to-date methods of neurological diagnosis, soon was able to
reach a reassuring verdict. It was a case, he found, not of organic,
but of functional paralysis--in fine, a case of hysteria. And, in the
end, by employing what is technically known as the method of "indirect
suggestion," he actually re-educated the paralyzed woman both to walk and
to talk.

Meantime, he made a searching inquiry to ascertain just why she had been
stricken by hysterical paralysis. He discovered, for one thing, that the
patient's fainting and vomiting spells and her headaches had usually
followed bitter quarrels with her husband--and usually had the effect of
placing victory on her side. There was one point, nevertheless, on which
the husband was immovable. He was a poor man and could not grant his
wife's insistent demand to move to a more expensive neighbourhood. He
would not have granted it if he could, for in the particular neighbourhood
to which she wished to move she had friends whom he regarded as
undesirable. It appeared that the attack of paralysis and speechlessness
had been preceded by an exceptionally bitter quarrel over this question
of moving--"a quarrel which," to quote from Doctor Myerson's report, "had
lasted for a whole day and into the night of the attack."

Thus, the attack itself could be correctly interpreted as the supreme
effort of a self-centred, neurotic personality to gain a desired end.
But, while making this interpretation, Doctor Myerson was quick to add,
in his report on the case, that the attack had not by any means been
brought on through the patient's "conscious purpose or volition." It was
all an affair of her subconsciousness, working in a blind, abnormal,
irrational way to help attain the object of her conscious desire. That
her subconsciousness should work so abnormally and so disastrously was
chiefly due, beyond any doubt, to the absence of adequate training in
self-control and emotional restraint.

But it is not only as a strange, irrational mode of fulfilling a wish
that hysteria and other nervous disorders may become manifest in selfish
people. Without this element of wishing entering in at all, nervousness
is particularly likely to attack the selfish. Many nervous conditions are
directly brought on by conscious or subconscious fixing of the thoughts
on the bodily processes. We are so constituted that our internal organs
work best when we pay no attention to them--or, more strictly, when we
pay no attention to the physical sensations to which they give rise while
working. If, for any reason, our attention is turned to and held on these
sensations, they at once become exaggerated, and the organs giving rise to
them tend to function badly. In this way any bodily organ may be disturbed
in its action, and general symptoms of nervousness result through nothing
but over-attention.

An eminent New York physician, Doctor J. J. Walsh, who has given special
thought to this aspect of the problem of nervousness, states the case more
fully, as follows:

"If something has particularly attracted a patient's attention to some
part of his anatomy, and if his attention is concentrated on it and
allowed to dwell long on it, his feelings may be so exaggerated as to
tempt him to think that they are connected with some definite pathological
condition, and he may even translate them into serious portents of organic
disease. If a patient once begins to waste nervous energy on himself
because of solicitude with regard to these symptoms, then it will not be
long before feelings of tiredness, incapacity for work, at times insomnia
and certain disturbances of memory, are likely to be noted. Then the
neurasthenic picture seems to be complete.

"This is the process so picturesquely called 'short-circuiting,' by which
nervous energy exhausts itself upon the individual himself instead of in
the accomplishment of external work. Many of the worst cases of so-called
neurasthenia have their origin in this process. It is true that this set
of events is much more likely to occur among people of lowered nervous
vitality, but, under certain conditions, it may develop in those who are
otherwise in good health up to the moment when the attention happened
to be particularly called to certain feelings. The physician can start
these patients off anew, after improving their physical condition, if
he can only bring them to see how much their concentration of mind upon
themselves is the cause of their symptoms."[9]

Now, of all people likely to be thus afflicted, the selfish man or woman
is by all means the likeliest, simply because his or her every mode
of thinking revolves about self. It is the selfish man's wishes, his
pleasures, his grievances, his reverses, that are of supreme importance
to him. When, moreover, his early upbringing has been such as to leave
him sadly short in emotional control, any passing disturbance in the
workings of his internal organs may easily hold disastrous consequences
for him. He worries over little ailments--as, for example, a slight attack
of indigestion--to which people of less self-centred nature would give
little or no thought. And, by his persistent worrying and his persistent
over-attention to the way his stomach works, it may not be long before he
has become a victim of chronic nervous dyspepsia.

Of course, unselfish people who are lacking in emotional control, or carry
about with them the unassimilated memory of childhood emotional shocks,
may likewise become nervous invalids of one sort or another. But they
are much less likely to do this than selfish people are, if only because
the unselfish are not so eternally occupied with themselves. They have
externalised their thoughts; they have neither time nor inclination to
think about trivial aches and pains. Unless overwhelmed by an unexpected
emotional shock--for instance, by the sudden death of a beloved relative
or by the shock of some great fright--they are likely to go through
life comfortably and normally enough. On the other hand, the selfish
person is always in danger of becoming morbidly introspective, with
resultant damage to the functioning of his nervous system.

Besides all this, there is the important consideration that to be selfish
means to be unhappy. Even if actual nervous ailments of a serious sort
are escaped by the selfish, unhappiness in the social relations and in
the _family_ relations is certain to be experienced. It is my firm belief
that, more than any other single cause, selfishness is responsible for
misunderstandings and increasing bitterness between husband and wife,
ending all too often in a breakdown of the sacred institution of marriage.
To deal successfully with that dread problem of to-day--the divorce
evil--we must, I submit, first appreciate how basic in marriage failure is
the factor of selfishness. To this theme I now invite the attention of my
parent-readers, for it is a theme of particular interest to them. If I am
correct, it is through education for marriage and, most of all, through
education against selfishness that the divorce problem can most surely he

What a problem it is! And a problem that has been steadily growing in
seriousness. In the twenty years from 1867 to 1886, according to figures
compiled by the United States Census Bureau, 328,716 divorces were granted
throughout the country. In the next twenty years--that is, from 1887 to
1906--divorces aggregated the enormous total of 945,625. In other words,
in a period of only twenty years nearly two million men and women in the
United States had their marriage ties legally severed, the break-up being
at the rate of about one hundred and thirty divorces a day.

And this increase has been progressively growing year after year. In 1867
there were only 9,937 divorces for the entire country. In 1906 no fewer
than 72,012 divorces were granted. Four years ago an unofficial estimate
put the annual divorce crop at nearly one hundred thousand, or, roughly,
one hundred divorces for every one hundred thousand of population. The
same estimate indicated that one marriage in every twelve ends in divorce.

Nor do these figures afford a complete view of the extent to which
marital infelicity obtains in the United States. Every year thousands
of marriages virtually, or actually, terminate without recourse to the
courts. Men and women who have entered into the marriage state really in
love with each other, develop so-called "incompatibilities of temperament"
which transform love into indifference, even hate. Reluctant to seek
divorce--perhaps conscientiously opposed to it--they continue to live
together, husband and wife in name only, or they arrange a voluntary
separation. Many others escape from what they have come to regard as an
intolerable yoke by the easy expedient of desertion, not necessarily
followed by court proceedings. It is impossible to give exact figures,
but unquestionably the number of marriages which collapse in divorce is a
comparatively small proportion of all unhappy marriages.

Taking the increase in divorce, however, as a concrete, definite measure
of marriage failure, the problem of explanation and remedy remains
obviously and sufficiently urgent. And it must be said that as a rule the
offered solutions are either evasive or superficial.

Some investigators, despairing of finding any solution, insist that the
increase in divorce is an unavoidable product of the complex, strenuous
life of modern civilisation. Others, much of the same mind, advocate
"trial marriages" as a palliative. Still others, singularly lacking in
courtesy, or of a myopic vision so far as women are concerned, throw the
blame on the "feminist movement," on the increasing emancipation of woman
from her old-time position of slavish inferiority. Finally, there are
investigators who, noting that the increase in divorce has steadily been
gaining momentum since the Civil War, attribute this to the difference in
economic conditions before and after the war. In effect, they say that
there are more divorces because the country is wealthier, the inference
being that increased national prosperity has had an unsettling effect on
the national life.

That this contention is sound cannot be gainsaid; but it does not go deep
enough. Of itself, it no more explains the increase in divorce than it
does the increase in crime and the increase in mental and nervous disease,
equally in evidence since the Civil War. These, too, there is warrant
for affirming, have increased because of changed economic conditions. It
remains, however, to ascertain the precise factor or factors brought into
operation by this economic change to account for the growth in crime,
insanity, nervous troubles, and divorce. And, in this connection, it is
most interesting and important to observe that, so far as concerns crime,
insanity, and nervous troubles, recent research has made clear exactly why
there has been an increase and how this may best be checked.

It is now recognised that, psychologically speaking, crime, insanity, and
nervousness represent an imperfect adaptation to the environment in which
the criminal, the lunatic, or the nervous person lives. This failure
of adaptation may be due either to inborn lack of capacity to meet the
requirements of the environment, or to lack of proper training.

Not so many years ago it was the consensus of scientific opinion that in
most cases of crime, insanity and nervousness the victim was hopelessly
handicapped from the start by the nature of his being. There was much
talk of "inherited criminality," "congenital brain defects," and
"neuropathic inheritance." But observation and experiment have compelled
an almost complete abandonment of this doctrine of fatal degeneration.
To-day scientists largely hold that not more than 1 or 2 per cent. of
criminals can be stigmatised as criminals by birth; that insanity is not
inheritable, like eye-colour or hair-colour; and that nervousness is, at
bottom, an acquired, rather than inherited, disorder.

Accordingly, if crime, insanity, and nervousness are on the increase,
it follows that faults of training, rather than innate and unescapable
tendencies, are the responsible factors. More specifically, crime,
insanity, and nervousness have increased because no adequate effort has
been made, by appropriate training, to fit the individual to withstand the
extra strain put upon him by the economic changes of the past half century.

Still further, modern scientific research has discovered the specific
training fault which, more than anything else, accounts for the failure
in adaptation. Stated briefly, this fault consists in neglect to develop
moral and emotional control during the first years of life.

In the case of criminality it has been proved, by repeated experiment
tried on a large scale,[10] that even the descendants of a long line of
criminals, if carefully trained in early childhood, will lead upright
lives. In the case of insanity, the discovery that the three principal
causes of mental disease are excessive indulgence in alcohol, sexual
indiscretions, and emotional stress, points directly to the importance of
training, aimed at the development of moral control. But most impressive,
as emphasising the need for beginning this training at an early age,
is the evidence accumulated in the case of those functional maladies,
hysteria, neurasthenia, and psychasthenia--evidence which we have already
discussed in much detail in these pages.

Study the history of every case of "nervous breakdown," of psychasthenic
fear, of hysterical anxiety and disabilities, of neurasthenic aches and
pains, and there will always be found a background of emotional intensity
and self-centredness, persisting from early childhood. Hence, the demand
of the modern neurologist and medical psychologist for training in youth
that will foster control of the emotions and that will habituate the
individual to forget self in useful activities. "The mind occupied with
external interests will have neither time nor inclination to feed upon

If, therefore, the one sure check to the increase in crime, insanity, and
nervous disorders is moral training in early life, can it be doubted that
the same process offers the strongest means of checking the tendency to
flood the divorce courts?

Ninety-nine divorces out of every hundred, it is safe to say, result from
errors of thinking and living--errors directly traceable to shortcomings
in early training. Selfishness and lack of control--these, I insist, are
the usual elements out of which divorces grow. And what are these but
bad habits, for which good habits might have been substituted had proper
precautions been taken by the parents in the plastic, formative period
of youth? Even in respect to the sexual phase of marriage--that phase in
which so many marriages come to grief--the trouble, when trouble occurs,
may, in most cases, be wholly attributed to parental thoughtlessness or
ignorance. On the sexual side, as on all sides of married life, the great
need is for education for marriage.

It is not my intention here to go into details. It must suffice to say
that investigation has shown that the sexual impulse begins to manifest
itself in sundry ways far earlier than most parents appreciate, and that
unless care is taken to observe and offset eccentricities of behaviour
possibly containing a sexual element, permanent harm may result.

For example, there often is a sexual element in the cruelty with which
not a few children treat play-fellows or household pets. The exaggerated
affection little boys sometimes display for their mothers, and little
girls for their fathers, is to-day likewise regarded by many medical
psychologists as a sexual signal calling for educational measures to
insure a more even distribution of affection for both parents. These same
psychologists insist that at the first obvious signs of interest in sexual
matters--as when the child begins to ask questions about his origin--he
should be given frank, if tactful, elementary instruction in the facts
of sex. Recall the quotation previously made from Havelock Ellis in this
connection. Evasive or untruthful answers will not do. They only fix the
attention more strongly on the subject, and from this fixing of the
attention a dangerously morbid interest in things sexual may develop.

Clearly, parents who would do their full duty by their children have
no easy task before them. Yet everything combines to show that unless
they make a business of parenthood--and, in especial, unless, by direct
instruction and the force of good example, they develop in their children
the virtues of self-control and self-forgetfulness--the after lives of
those children, when themselves married, will be anything but happy, and
may, in addition, be lives marred by some form of serious nervous or
mental disturbance.


[Footnote 9: "Psychotherapy," pp. 559-560.]

[Footnote 10: See "Psychology and Parenthood," pp. 8-18.]




Doctor W. Bechterew, a distinguished Russian physician, was one day
visited by a man of extraordinary appearance. Cheap and shabby clothing
fitted the visitor's gaunt frame badly; his gait was shuffling; his whole
form and manner testified pathetically to an overwhelming burden of
poverty, anxiety, and dread. But what was most remarkable about him was
a pair of enormous black spectacles, giving a horribly grotesque aspect
to his pallid, bearded face. It was with difficulty that Doctor Bechterew
concealed the astonishment he felt and courteously inquired what he could
do for his strange visitor.

"I have come," was the hesitating, almost stammering, reply, "in the hope
that you can cure me of my bashfulness."

"Your bashfulness?" repeated the physician, with a quizzical, but kindly,
smile. "Is that all that troubles you?"

"It is enough," answered the other, vehemently. "Doctor, it has made life
a hell for me."

"And for how long have you been bashful?"

"Virtually since childhood. I can positively place its beginnings in my
schooldays." His words now flowed swiftly, torrentially. "Long before I
left school I noticed that I felt awkward and uneasy when anybody looked
directly at me. I found myself blushing, stammering, turning away, unable
to look people in the eye.

"After I left school and went to work, matters became much worse. In
business I had to meet strangers all the time, and in the presence of
strangers I felt absolutely helpless. My bashfulness increased to such an
extent that I began to invent excuses to stay away from my work, and to
remain at home in a miserable solitude. But this did not do; I had to
earn my living. In desperation, I hit on the idea of wearing these black

"So that people cannot see your eyes?"

"Exactly. They have helped me wonderfully; intrenched behind them, I feel
comparatively safe. But I detest them, and I long to be like other men. Is
there no cure for me?"

Bizarre, startlingly unique as this must seem, it, after all, differs only
in the single detail of the spectacles from hundreds of other cases which
might be cited. All over the world are men and women who suffer agonies
from an oppressive, and to them inexplicable, sense of timidity when
brought into contact with other people. Many, to be sure, make a brave
effort to conceal the true state of affairs, compelling themselves to
mingle more or less freely in society, despite the torturing apprehensions
they then feel. Others of less stubborn mould either seclude themselves or
deliberately choose careers that leave them much in solitude. Sometimes,
for that matter, the choosing of such careers is an affair not of choice,
but of necessity. A man of thirty-four confided to his physician, Doctor
Paul Hartenberg:

"I began life as an assistant to my father in the wholesale liquor
business, my work being such that I did not realise my extreme
bashfulness. But it was made very clear to me when, owing to my father's
failure, I was obliged to seek employment elsewhere.

"I applied for and was given the position of manager in a large café. It
was part of my duty to keep order among the employees, and, to my dismay,
I found that I was not equal to this. Whenever I had to exert my authority
I was strangely embarrassed; I stammered, trembled, and, worst of all,
blushed like a girl. The employees, as you may imagine, were not long in
perceiving how timid and bashful I was, and affairs rapidly came to such a
pass that the owner of the café angrily dismissed me.

"I then became a clerk in a department store. But, alas! my deplorable
bashfulness was again my undoing. If a customer looked at me when asking
a question or giving an order, I blushed, became so embarrassed that I had
to turn away, and, in my confusion, paid no attention to what the customer
was saying. If the latter repeated his words I became more disturbed than
ever, trembled, perspired, and acted so queerly that people thought I was

"Again I was dismissed, and again I found employment, this time in a
smaller store. The result was the same. Thus I passed from position to
position, always descending in the social scale. What do you suppose I am
doing at present? I am washing dishes in the cellar of a restaurant. It is
not pleasant work, but it at least shelters me from the terrible gaze of

This, fortunately, is an exceptional case. Yet it is certain that many a
man is to-day holding a position far below that for which he really has
ability, simply because he is too bashful to assert himself, dreading not
so much the increased responsibilities of more remunerative work as the
fact that it will bring him more conspicuously and intimately into the
view of other people. He feels in his soul, poor fellow, that the result
will be to plunge him into unendurable confusion. It is an ordeal too
great for him to face, and he clings desperately to the inferior position,
which, from his distorted point of view, has the merit of allowing him to
go through life unnoticed and, consequently, untroubled.

What, then, is this bashfulness which exerts so widespread and baneful an
influence? Whence does it take its rise? And how is its victim to go about
the task of overcoming it? These are questions of vital significance,
particularly in this age of complex civilisation and strenuous
competition, in which the bashful man is at a tremendous disadvantage.
Happily, he appreciates this, and resorts with increasing frequency to
the physician's office in quest of advice and aid. As a result, far more
is known about bashfulness to-day than was ever the case before, albeit
in its most important aspects as yet known only to a comparatively small
number of psychologically trained physicians.

These physicians recognise that there are two distinct types of
bashfulness, the one chronic, the other occasional, both of which
represent an abnormal exaggeration of the shyness which is a normal
characteristic of nearly every child, and which manifests itself in
blushing, fidgeting, hiding the face, etc. Ordinarily, this organic
shyness, as the psychologist Baldwin has termed it, disappears between the
fifth and seventh year. But it may recur under special conditions, and it
is specially likely to recur, as almost everybody knows from experience,
under conditions focusing public attention on the person. Under such
conditions--being called on unexpectedly to speak in public, taking part
for the first time in theatrical performances, and so forth--bashfulness
of the occasional type is very much in evidence, its symptoms ranging
from tremor, palpitation, and vasomotor disturbances to the paralysis of
"stage fright." Neither psychologically nor medically is this type of
bashfulness of much importance. As the novelty of the conditions giving
rise to it wears off--when, for example, one has become accustomed to
public speaking--it usually disappears. Like the organic shyness of
childhood, it is merely a product of inexperience, an expression of an
instinctive reaction that is possibly "a far-off echo from the dim past,
when fear of the unknown was a safeguard in the struggle for existence."

Altogether different is the case with those who are habitually bashful,
of whom the world holds many thousands. Here, obviously, some factor
or factors other than inexperience must enter to cause the chronic
timidity which has the special quality of afflicting its victim only
when in the presence of other human beings. This, indeed, is the
distinguishing characteristic of bashfulness, as was pointed out long
ago by Charles Darwin, in his statement that bashfulness seems to depend
on "sensitiveness to the opinion, whether good or bad, of others."
Darwin also held--and his view still is the prevailing one--that the
sensitiveness of the habitually bashful man relates mostly to external
appearances. That is to say, he is bashful because he knows he is
awkward, because he is dressed out of style or not in keeping with the
special occasion, or because he suffers from some real or fancied bodily
defect. To the objection that there are plenty of awkward, badly dressed,
and physically deformed men and women who are not at all bashful, the
advocates of this theory fall back on heredity as the ultimate determining
factor, insisting that it is an inborn weakness which makes the bashful
man or woman supersensitive to the opinion of others regarding his or her
personal appearance and demeanour.

Now, recent research seems to leave no doubt that heredity does
operate to some extent in the causation of bashfulness, since most
bashful persons--at any rate, among those who come under the care of
physicians--have a strain of the neurotic in their family histories. On
the other hand, it has been quite as positively established that the
matter of external appearances has a causal relation to bashfulness in
comparatively few cases, though it may act as an aggravating element.
In case after case the first manifestations of true chronic bashfulness
have been traced to a period in life far antedating any anxiety on the
person's part respecting the way he walks or dresses or looks. More than
this, when the bashful themselves are questioned as to the causes of their
bashfulness, they usually either profess entire ignorance, or emphasise
mental, rather than physical, factors.

"I attribute my bashfulness to no physical cause," is a characteristic
response. "I attribute it to a certain weakness of mind, to my lack
of self-confidence, to fear of ridicule, and especially to a nervous
excitement which I feel whenever others look at me."

Of course, apart from the doubt which such a response casts on the
external appearances theory of bashfulness, and its emphasis on the
mental, as opposed to the physical, factor, it really throws scarcely any
light on the question of causation. Just as there are many awkward, badly
dressed, and deformed people who are not bashful, so there are many modest
and sensitive ones who go through life in wholly normal fashion, perhaps
untroubled even by bashfulness of the occasional type. Quite evidently
there still is an underlying something which has to be taken into account
before one can fully understand chronic bashfulness.

That something the modern medical psychologist is beginning to believe he
has discovered through proceeding on the assumption that bashfulness is
far more than a mere innate weakness or character defect; that it is, in
reality, a functional nervous trouble, differing only in degree, not in
kind, from hysteria and other psychoneuroses. That is to say, the medical
psychologist assumes that, as is now believed to be the case in every
psychoneurosis, the bashful man is the victim of subconscious memories of
distressing incidents in his early life; incidents which, in his case,
have had the effect of arousing in an exaggerated degree sentiments of
shame or fear.

The supersensitive child, having seen or heard something that profoundly
shocks him, or having committed some petty or really serious fault, feels,
on the one hand, that he has a shameful secret he must guard carefully,
and, on the other hand, fears that people can read his secret in his eyes.
Hence, he develops feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment when others
look at and speak to him. He fidgets, blushes, stammers, trembles; in a
word, displays all the symptoms indicated by the term bashfulness. In the
course of time one of two things will happen: either increased knowledge
will reassure him, and he will, as the saying is, outgrow his bashfulness;
or the hidden fear and shame--even though the original occasion for them
may have completely lapsed from conscious remembrance--will fix themselves
firmly in his mind, causing a habit of bashfulness which may torture him
all his life.

Whether this new theory as to bashfulness of the chronic type holds
good invariably, it is as yet impossible to say. Certainly, it has been
verified in an astonishingly large number of cases. Time and again,
applying some one of the delicate methods by which they tunnel into the
most obscure recesses of the mind, medical psychologists have dragged into
the full light of conscious recollection forgotten memories which the
victims of bashfulness themselves recognise as connected with the onset of
their abnormal timidity. Often their bashfulness completely disappears,
or is markedly abated, as soon as the memories responsible for it are
recovered. Or, when an immediate cure is not wrought, one is pretty sure
to result after an explanation of the evolution of the trouble and the
application of appropriate suggestions to develop self-confidence and will

To illustrate by citing a few instances from life, let me give first the
case of a young New England man, who, as usually happens, did not resort
to a physician until his bashfulness had begun to interfere with his
earning a livelihood.

"I have not the slightest idea what is the matter with me," he told the
neurologist whom he consulted, "but the fact is that for a good many years
I have felt strangely timid when meeting people. I believe I am naturally
of a courageous disposition--certainly I do not suffer from cowardice in
the ordinary sense--but I actually blush and tremble if spoken to suddenly
or looked at intently. Lately I notice this has been growing worse."

"Can you tell me," the physician asked, "just when you first noticed that
you were bashful?"

"No, I am sorry to say I can't. I only know that it began while I was a

Nevertheless, by the aid of a method of psychoanalysis, or psychological
mind-tunnelling, it was ascertained that, subconsciously, he did know
exactly when his bashfulness began, and also was well aware of its cause.
From among the forgotten, or only vaguely remembered, episodes of his
boyhood there emerged, with exceptional vividness, a memory-picture of the
time when he first went to work. He recalled with painful intensity the
figure of his employer, a stern, cold, hard man, with piercing eyes.

"Those eyes seemed to be on me everywhere I went. They seemed to be
watching for the least mistake I might make. I began to wonder what would
happen to me if I did make mistakes. Then I began to feel incompetent and
to fear that he would notice my incompetency. I grew nervous, awkward,
timid. Whenever he spoke to me, I jumped, I blushed, I trembled. After a
time I did the same when anybody spoke to me."

"And sometimes you still think of that first employer who frightened you
so much?"

"I try not to, but I know I do."

To the neurologist the cause of his patient's bashfulness was now evident.
The fear, the anxiety, the over-conscientiousness engendered by the
employer's attitude, working in the mind of an ultra-impressionable boy,
were quite enough to initiate a habit of abnormal diffidence. Tactfully,
the physician made this clear to the patient; earnestly he impressed on
him the idea that the unpleasant experience of which he spoke was a thing
of the past, and was nothing of which he now need stand in dread; and
tirelessly he reiterated the suggestion that the patient had it in his
own power to exorcise the demon of bashfulness created by the painful
subconscious memory-image of those early days. In the end he had the
satisfaction of sending him on his way rejoicing in a perfect cure.

Strikingly different in its inception is a case that came under the
observation of Doctor Bechterew. In this instance the patient was a young
woman of excellent family and most attractive appearance. The symptom
of which she chiefly complained was an abnormal blushing. When with the
members of her own family, no less than with strangers, she would, at
the least provocation, feel the blood suffusing her face and would turn
distressingly red. To avoid this, she kept much to herself, and led a
lonely, miserable life.

Questioned by Doctor Bechterew as to the length of time she had been thus
afflicted, and any prior occurrences which might have given her a real and
urgent reason for embarrassment and blushing, her answers at first were
wholly unenlightening. But little by little, probing with the skill of the
trained psychological cross-examiner, he drew from her the details of a
pathetic experience.

At the age of seventeen, it appeared, she had been thrown much into the
company of a married man old enough to be her father. A friendship had
sprung up between them, but, on her part, there had certainly been no
thought of anything beyond friendship, until one evening at a garden party
he asked her to walk with him in a secluded part of the grounds.

"While we were talking together," she confided to Doctor Bechterew, "he
suddenly asked me if I cared for him--if I cared enough to leave home
and spend the rest of my life with him. His avowal of love shocked and
shamed me. I hastily left him and, with burning cheeks, rejoined the other

"As soon as possible, I made my excuses and went home. It seemed to me
that my face betrayed my secret. Afterwards I could not speak to or even
think of that man without blushing. Now that you have made me recall
the circumstance, I feel sure that out of that terrible experience has
gradually been developed the habit of bashfulness and blushing which has
made life almost unbearable to me."

Contrast with this a third case: the case of a young Jew, robust and
alert-looking, a wagon driver by occupation, who applied to the Vanderbilt
Clinic in New York City to be treated for what he vaguely termed a
"nervous trouble." Referred to Doctor A. A. Brill, already mentioned as a
specialist in nervous disorders, he confessed that the malady for which he
sought relief was nothing more or less than bashfulness.

"It may seem strange to you," said he, "that a fellow like me should be
bashful, but I am so timid when with strangers that I scarcely know what
I am doing. I speak and act like a fool; my hands tremble; I trip over

"Can you give any reason why you should feel so awkward and embarrassed?"

"Not the slightest. I often have tried to explain it to myself, but all to
no purpose. As far as I can tell, it is without a cause."

"Still, it must have a cause, and we will do our best to discover what
that is."

Step by step, in the course of several days' investigation by
psychoanalysis, Doctor Brill led the patient through the details of his
past life. In this way it was definitely ascertained that the bashfulness
of which he complained dated from his twelfth year. Delving among the
forgotten memories of that early period, Doctor Brill presently unearthed
one which the patient, the moment he recalled it, recognised as being
coincidental with the beginning of the excessive timidity that had brought
him such suffering.

It was the memory of a boyhood escapade that had at the time caused
unusual remorse, shame, and fear of discovery. He had fancied that
others could read in his eyes what he had done; he became afraid to
look at people or to have them look at him. Awkwardness, embarrassment,
bashfulness grew apace, and remained characteristic of him even after he
had forgotten all about the affair from which they sprang.

Thanks, however, to the recovery of this lost memory-image, and of other
subconscious reminiscences which had intensified the feeling of shame, it
was now possible for Doctor Brill to institute psychotherapeutic treatment
that eventually resulted in a cure. Incidentally, it also resulted in
materially improving the young man's position in life. Freed from his
bashfulness, he developed unexpected ambition, and eventually became the
owner of a well-paying business.

Similarly, boyhood weaknesses and failings, carrying with them profound
feelings of shame and apprehension, were found responsible for the
bashfulness experienced by Doctor Hartenberg's dish-washing patient and
Doctor Bechterew's visitor with the black spectacles.

Always, in truth, the story seems to be the same: there has been in the
chronically bashful man's early life some specific shock, fright, or
anxiety, which, provoking in a supersensitive mind feelings of extreme
embarrassment, has established a bashfulness that may not fully yield to
any method of treatment until the remote and usually forgotten cause is
recalled to remembrance.

Happily, this requirement is not always necessary. As an eminent medical
psychologist once said to me:

"It is my experience that, in many cases, a cure can be brought about
simply by developing the patient's will power, either through suggestion
in hypnosis, or through psychic re-education in the normal waking
state. In such instances, it is enough to explain to the patient that
his bashfulness undoubtedly had its origin in some shock which he has
forgotten; that while, in the beginning, he may have had reason enough for
feeling bashful, that reason has long since been outlived; and that his
present bashfulness is actually nothing more than a bad habit, the result
of self-suggestion.

"Attacking the problem this way and applying strong counter-suggestion,
it frequently is possible to effect a cure without a tedious preliminary
ransacking of subconscious memories. When, however, this method fails,
psychoanalytic investigation becomes indispensable."

Manifestly of even greater importance than the cure of bashfulness is
its prevention. This, on any theory of its causation, and especially on
the view here advanced, is primarily a matter resting with parents. The
appearance in a growing boy or girl of symptoms of habitual uneasiness
and embarrassment when with other children or older persons should be
regarded as a reason for real anxiety. Actually, however, as in the case
of children who show extreme or persistent jealousy, most parents are
inclined to dismiss such symptoms from their minds with the careless
remark, "Yes, he's bashful; but that's nothing. He'll outgrow it."
Unfortunately, he may not outgrow it without definite aid and guidance.

For one thing, the effort should immediately be made to develop in him
interests, whether scholastic or athletic--preferably both--that will
take him out of himself. Whatever else may be said of bashfulness, it is
always, like selfishness, a sign of excessive preoccupation, conscious
or unconscious, with thoughts of self. The bashful boy, no less than
the bashful man, is abnormally self-centred. And, besides endeavouring
to weaken his extreme egoism, there should be a systematic attempt to
cultivate self-control and self-reliance; while, at the same time, his
confidence should be tactfully sought, to draw from him a statement as to
anything that is particularly perplexing or worrying him, and thereby to
gain a vantage point for effectually banishing doubt and anxiety from his

To banish doubt and anxiety from his mind! I am put in remembrance of
another serious life handicap, allied to bashfulness in having as a basic
element lack of self-reliance and self-confidence, and, like bashfulness,
originating in childhood experiences. This handicap is the habit of futile
doubting and reasoning, whether about matters of importance or matters of
no importance. In some people the habit of futile doubting is so extreme
as to amount to a veritable disease. Again, let me make use of an instance
from real life to bring out concretely the condition I have in mind.

To a neurologist in the city of Washington there came a man thirty years
of age. There was nothing in his appearance to set him apart from other
people. He was intelligent-looking, well dressed, well mannered, and he
did not seem at all out of health. But this, in effect, is what he said to
the neurologist:

"Doctor, I have come to you as a last resort, and if you cannot help me I
do not know what I shall do. I am mentally all in pieces. My mind is so
weak that I cannot even decide what clothes I ought to put on.

"My indecision shows itself the moment I awake in the morning. I start
to get up; then it occurs to me that perhaps I ought not to get up
immediately. So I lie down again, wondering just what I ought to do. I
am beset by doubts. Not until somebody enters my room and insists on my
rising can I bring myself to do so.

"At once a terrible conflict begins within me as to the clothes I should
wear. Every article of my clothing has to be carefully considered. It is
as if a vital problem had to be solved. Sometimes, after I am dressed, the
thought strikes me that my underwear may be too light, or too heavy, or
that something else is the matter with it.

"Then I have to undress and put on fresh underwear, which I minutely
inspect. Or, perhaps, it is my shirt that troubles me, or the pattern of
my neck-tie, or the suit I have put on.

"Always I fear that I have made a mistake in some way. Dressing
consequently becomes an endless process to me. Even with help--and I
nearly always have to be helped--it is two or three hours before I am
finally dressed."

Consider also the case of a morbid doubter who was successfully treated
by that well-known New England medical psychologist, Doctor Boris
Sidis. In this case, doubting was only one of several disease symptoms.
Here, somewhat abridged, is Doctor Sidis's own account of his patient's
indulgence in trivial doubts:

"The patient is troubled by a form of _folie de doute_. He is not sure
that the addresses on his letters are correctly written; and, no matter
how many times he may read them over, he cannot feel assured that the
addresses are correct. Some one else must read them and assure him that
they are addressed correctly.

"When he has to write many letters, sometimes a sudden fear gets
possession of him that he has interchanged the letters and put them into
the wrong envelopes. He has then to tear open the envelopes and look the
letters over again and again, to assure himself that they have been put
by him into the right envelopes.

"Similarly, in turning out the gas jet, he must needs try it over again
and again, and is often forced to get up from bed to try again whether the
gas is 'really' shut off. He lights the gas, then tests the gas jet with
a lighted match, to see whether the gas leaks and is 'really' completely
shut off.

"In closing the door of his room, he must try the lock over and over
again. He locks the door, and then unlocks it again, then locks it once
more. Still, he is not sure. He then must shake it violently, so as to
get the full assurance that the door has been actually and 'really'

This second illustrative instance brings out vividly a fact that deserves
to be emphasised--the fact, namely, that, at bottom, these doubting manias
are only exaggerations of a phenomenon of common occurrence. There are
times when virtually everybody is tormented by doubts regarding matters
that ought not to cause any indecision or perplexity. Moreover, while
comparatively few people feel the need of going to a physician to be cured
of abnormal doubting, there are many others who might advantageously seek
the specialist's aid. People are often blind to their great weakness in
this respect, though their friends may see clearly that their vacillation
with regard to things great or small constitutes a defect that of itself
accounts amply for their inability to make headway in the world and rise
above mediocrity.

Like the Washington neurologist's patient, if in less degree, there are
people to whom the choice of clothing presents a prodigious problem. To
others, the choice of foods is a never-ending puzzle. At every meal they
find themselves sadly at a loss to decide what they shall eat. Others,
again, acting in much the fashion of the young man treated by Doctor
Sidis, conjure up visions of possible mistakes and mishaps in connection
with the writing and mailing of letters, the opening or shutting of doors
and windows, the carrying of umbrellas, etc. Also, there are doubters of
a kind well described by an observant physician:

"There are people who doubt whether their friends really think anything
of them. They think that, though they treat them courteously, this may
be only common politeness, and that they may really resent their wasting
their time when they call on them. They hesitate to ask these people to
do things for them, though, over and over again, the friends may have
shown their willingness, and, above all, by asking favours of them in
turn, may have shown that they were quite willing to put themselves under

"They doubt about their charities. They wonder whether they may really not
be doing more harm than good, though they have investigated the cases,
or have had them investigated, and the objects of their charity may have
been proved to be quite deserving. They hesitate about the acquisition
of new friends, and doubt whether they should give them any confidence,
and whether the confidences they have received from them are not really

Here, decidedly, we have a state of affairs not only breeding unhappiness,
but involving a vast waste of nervous energy. This it is that chiefly
makes the yielding to trivial doubts a menace to human welfare. To
conserve energy for useful purposes, we are so constituted that ordinarily
the little acts of everyday life--our rising, dressing, eating, attending
to household or business details of a routine character--are done by us
automatically. We take it for granted that we do them correctly, and,
usually, we so do them. If now and then we make a mistake, we think little
about it. Rightly, we regard it as of no account, compared with matters of
more importance. Thus we conserve our energy for our life work. Whereas
the doubter about trivialities fritters his energy away.

And, now, taking up the question of the causation of this costly habit of
doubting about trivialities, let us turn once more to the cases of the
two morbid doubters who consulted the Washington and Boston specialists.

In both of these cases, psychological analysis was undertaken to
ascertain the causes of the exaggerated tendency to doubt. In both it was
found that the patients had been subjected in childhood to conditions
almost inevitably productive of a profound distrust of self. This was
particularly true in the Washington case. The patient in this case was the
only son of parents whose love had led them to be over-solicitous about
him. When he was a little fellow they could not bear to have him out of
their sight, lest something should happen to him. They had anticipated his
wishes, done for him things that he might very well have done for himself;
and, when he did attempt to do things for himself, they intervened to help

The result was an enfeebling of his consciousness and of his will. The man
grew up without initiative. People had always done things for him, had
always decided things for him. How could any one expect him to decide
anything for himself? It was not that he was naturally weak-minded,
weak-willed; it was that his training had engendered in him conditions
making for mental confusion and instability of purpose.

Such was the outcome of the neurologist's psychological study of his
case. It held the possibilities of a cure, through psychic re-education,
having as its starting point the emancipation of this child of thirty from
slavish dependence on his parents. And, in the end, after nearly two years
of patient effort, a cure was actually effected.

In the second case, distrust of self had been produced in quite another
way. This patient's parents had not spoiled him by over-attention. On
the opposite, they had not given enough thought to the importance of
developing in him emotional control, the need for which was particularly
indicated in his early childhood by great dreaminess and sensitiveness of
disposition. His special need for training in the control of his emotions
was further evinced by the violence of his reactions to happenings of
a disturbing nature. Once, for instance, when he unexpectedly met a
deformed, paralysed man, he fell to the ground in a faint.

This should have been sufficient warning to his parents that they must
make every effort to stiffen his character and to protect him from
needless shocks. As a matter of fact, they exposed him to conditions that
would have been harmful to any child. During his early years he was thrown
much into the company of an old grandfather afflicted with sundry physical
and mental ailments, among them the doubting mania in an extreme form.
Also, he was allowed to witness the death agonies of several relatives.

All this was bound to leave a lasting imprint on his mind and his nervous
system, filling him with vague fears, both as to life in general and, in
particular, as to his own ability to live successfully. It was impossible
for him to escape the knowledge that he did not endure the difficult and
the unpleasant as well as other children did. And, with this knowledge,
distrust of self, a sense of inferiority, took firm hold of him.

Nevertheless, he contrived to get along passably until he entered college.
He was nervous and a little "queer," but not markedly so. When, however,
ever, he found it necessary to study unusually hard for some examinations,
a breakdown came. Various disease symptoms, physical and mental, developed
in him, including the habit of perpetually fretting and doubting about
things of small significance. In his case, that is to say, faulty training
in childhood had laid the foundation for a serious psychic weakness, to
the full development of which a physical condition--fatigue--had acted as
the immediate cause.

In most cases of morbid doubting that have been psychologically analysed,
parental mistakes have similarly become apparent. There may be--there
usually is--a constitutional tendency to nervous troubles. But the
parents have not appreciated this. Or, if they have appreciated it, they
have failed to offset it by education especially designed to strengthen
the will and inspire self-confidence, and by measures having as their
end a sound physical upbuilding. Also, they have failed--and this is of
the utmost importance--to externalise the personal interests, so that
self-consciousness shall be at a minimum.

This does not mean, however, that the unfavourable results of the
parental mistakes cannot be remedied later in life. There is reason to
believe that, even in most extreme cases of morbid doubting--except the
comparatively few cases where organic brain disease is responsible for the
doubting--it is possible to effect a cure. As has been said, both of these
patients were cured, and their cases may be regarded as fairly typical
of this variety of mental affliction at its worst. Accordingly, when the
tendency to trivial doubts is less marked, there is the possibility not
only of cure, but of self-cure, provided that the doubter recognises
exactly wherein he is deficient.

Self-consciousness, timidity, distrust of self, a conscious or
subconscious feeling of inferiority, and often a lack of physical
vigour--these are the elements that chiefly contribute to the growth of
a tendency to anxiety and indecision about trivial things; these are the
weaknesses that specially need to be overcome. As a preliminary measure,
the doubter should make it a rule to take exercise daily in the open air,
and to see to it that his living and sleeping quarters are kept well

Indecision, even in the most energetic of men, is frequently a resultant
of deprivation of fresh air. To reach decisions, to settle doubts quickly,
a well-nourished brain is indispensable. And no brain can be well
nourished unless the blood flowing to it is amply supplied with oxygen.
Of all persons, therefore, the habitual doubter is in need of plenty of
fresh air and of physical exercise to build up his organism as a whole and
increase his powers of resistance to fatigue. For the same reason, he
needs an abundance of good food.

Physical upbuilding, moreover, will have the desirable effect of
increasing his power of concentrating attention on some serious life
interest. This, above everything else, is what the doubter needs to do.
He must develop an ardent interest in something worth while--his work, a
useful hobby, occupation of some sort. The trivial doubter--the doubter
of any kind--is pre-eminently a man or woman devoid of a keen life
interest. If a life interest were present, there would be neither time nor
inclination to dissipate energy in useless doubting. If you, my reader,
recognise in yourself one of the doubting kind, you will appreciate the
truth of this. You will admit that you have little enthusiasm for your
work, little interest in anything that would keep you from being too
occupied with thoughts of self.

Developing such an interest, self-consciousness will diminish,
self-confidence will grow. Gradually, less and less attention will be
paid to the petty details of daily existence that formerly gave so much
concern. They will be pushed more and more into the background of the
mind, will be managed automatically, as it was intended they should be
managed. No longer will your indecision be a source of pitying, perhaps
amused, comment by your friends. Instead, they will have occasion to
comment, with pleased surprise, on the vigour and promptness of decision
in all things that has taken the place of the old indecision.

One word more:

Exactly as hygienic measures are helpful in the cure of indecision in
adults, so are they helpful to prevent the development of indecision--and
bashfulness--in children. Parents will do well to bear this in mind. But,
as in the prevention of selfishness, jealousy, and so forth, reliance on
hygienic measures alone is not enough. It is all very well to see that
children get plenty of good food, abundant muscular exercise, and much
life in the open air. This is excellent and necessary. Also, however, they
must be given wise moral training--training that will make it habitual
for them to think and act vigourously, to keep their emotions well in
hand, to be interested in much besides themselves, and to develop the
feeling of self-confidence and the spirit of initiative.

Now, let us turn to still another preventable and serious life handicap
having its origin in the days of childhood--the handicap of stammering.


[Footnote 11: "Studies In Psychopathology," 1907, pp. 22-23.]

[Footnote 12: J. J. Walsh's "Psychotherapy", p. 736.]




There lies convenient to my hand at this moment a thin, pamphlet-like
volume that tells the story of one of the strangest, among the many
singular and tragic blunders which medical science has made in its
progress to knowledge. It is a translation from the German of Doctor J.
F. Dieffenbach's "Memoir on the Radical Cure of Stuttering." Assuredly,
Dieffenbach's "cure" was radical enough, for it consisted in nothing less
than the excision of a large, wedge-shaped section from the stammerer's
tongue! In this little book, published in 1841, and embellished
with several ghastly full-page engravings, is described, with great
professional gusto, the first of these terrible operations as performed,
without the merciful aid of any anesthetic, on an unhappy boy of thirteen.
The result was a "complete success." Says Dieffenbach, writing a few weeks
after the operation:

"At the present time not the slightest trace of stuttering remains,
not the slightest vibration of the muscles of the face, not the most
inconsiderable play of the lips. His speech is, throughout, well toned,
even, and flowing."

Thus was inaugurated a period of butchery that lasted until--almost before
the year was out--it was observed that those "cured" by this sanguinary
means usually began, before long, to stammer as badly as ever, and also
that those who were not "cured" had a tendency to die. Yet Dieffenbach was
no charlatan, no "quack." He was a reputable surgeon who honestly believed
that he had discovered the true remedy for stammering. And, if the passage
of time has intensified the tragedy and absurdity of his method and has
relegated his glowing account of it to a place in the literature of
medical curiosities, there is this to be said of him--that he has had
plenty of successors who have erred almost as seriously in their attempts
to solve the problem presented by the widespread and baffling malady of

In fact, up to within quite recent times the record of the struggle
against stammering has been one of continuous failure. There has been a
steady accumulation of methods of treatment, from surgical operations of
a less drastic type than Dieffenbach's to the use of various articulatory
and respiratory exercises and devices, without any appreciable effect
in the diminution of stammering. Even to-day the great majority of
physicians and lay specialists--to whom, by a sort of tacit agreement,
the medical profession has largely relinquished the task of dealing with
stammering--labour to next to no purpose. At this very moment there are
in the United States at least three hundred thousand persons who stammer,
fully half of whom stammer so badly that they are severely handicapped in
the gaining of a livelihood. Thousands of these have resorted to medical
advice, or have attended so-called schools for stammerers, with lastingly
beneficial results to few. Small wonder that there is, among stammerers
and their friends, a tendency to believe that stammering is one of the
hopelessly incurable maladies of mankind.

And this would undeniably appear to be true, as regards many stammerers.
On the other hand, it may confidently be said that nearly all cases of
stammering are actually susceptible of marked improvement, often amounting
to 75 or 90 per cent. of a cure; and that a number of cases can be
completely cured. Such a statement, to be sure, could not have been safely
made even a few years ago. This for the reason that only lately has there
been any really systematic effort by scientifically trained investigators
to study the phenomena of stammering, with a view to ascertaining, with
scientific exactness, its true nature and causation.

Stammering, it has long been recognised, is not a malady of uniform
symptomatology, like tuberculosis or typhoid fever. No two stammerers
stammer precisely alike. They stumble over different letters and sounds;
time, place, and circumstances have varying effects on the degree of
their stammering; and the physical spasms and contortions that so often
accompany this trouble differ in different stammerers. There is, too,
a great variation in the onset of stammering. Mostly, it is true, it
manifests itself in childhood, from the age of four to eleven. But it may
not set in until much later in life; and, when it does begin in childhood,
it begins under much diversity of conditions.

Sometimes a child stammers almost as soon as he has learned to speak,
though seldom, if ever, coincident with the learning. Often, the first
appearance of stammering follows some disease like measles or diphtheria.
Or, again, a child who has been speaking quite well, suddenly begins to
stammer, and persists in stammering, after being brought into contact with
people who are themselves stammerers.

"I was entirely free of stammering," declares a clergyman, in a typical
statement, "till I was five years old. At that time of life there was a
gentleman who occasionally came to my father's house, and stammered very
badly. I distinctly remember one afternoon trying to imitate him; when,
unfortunately, he heard me, and was very indignant. So ashamed were my
parents at my conduct that, after he had gone, I was taken to task and
punished severely for it. Ever since that night I have been afflicted with
this most distressing malady, in spite of all my efforts to overcome it."

Compare a statement by a Philadelphia physician, Doctor D. Braden Kyle:

"Several years ago I saw three interesting cases of stammering. Two of
the cases were imitation. These two lads, who were associated with a boy
several years older, the worst stammerer I ever saw, clearly imitated him.
As they were constantly together, the imitation was almost continuous.
They certainly developed into expert stammerers. In less than two years
they were confirmed stammerers, and it was impossible for them to speak
at all without stuttering and stammering."

Facts like these, I repeat, have long been observed and commented on
by specialists in the treatment of stammering; but they have, for the
most part, been dismissed as mere "oddities," while emphasis has been
laid on the single fact that, in the majority of cases, stammerers have
had parents or other relatives who themselves stammered. "Heredity,"
consequently, has been assumed to be the one and sufficient explanation
of all stammering; and it has also been assumed that what is inherited
is either an anatomical or a physiological defect. Hence, in too many
instances, the use of the surgeon's knife; and, hence, the invention of
innumerable systems designed to train the stammerer in the correct use
of his breathing and articulating organs--in a word, systems intended to
teach him how to talk.

But, as even the most enthusiastic exponents of these corrective systems
are now beginning to appreciate, whatever else the stammerer may need, he
does not need to be taught how to talk. For he can talk well enough on
occasion. Nothing is more significant, from the standpoint of assisting
to a clear understanding of the nature of stammering, than the fact that
there are uncommonly few stammerers who have any difficulty in speaking
when nobody is with them. On this point, every stammerer with whom I
have been in touch is in remarkable agreement, and others who have had a
far wider acquaintance with stammerers testify to the same effect. For
example, Mr. Charles L. Rowan, of Milwaukee, a gentleman who has stammered
for years and has made a close study of the subject, informs me:

"When I am alone--and the same is true of other stammerers--I have no
speech difficulty whatever, and can talk or read aloud for hours with
ease. It is only when I am with others that I halt and stammer in my
speech. Sometimes I talk in my sleep, and the folks tell me I do not
stammer then. But, if I am dreaming, and in the dream imagine myself
talking, it is always in a stammer.

"I have also noticed that most stammerers talk better when the subject
is light and frivolous than when it is something serious. And they talk
better when conversing with people whom they regard as inferiors. I know a
man who is a section foreman, and he says he can give orders to his negro
and Mexican labourers perfectly, but if the roadmaster comes along he
cannot talk to him at all."

And a stammerer from Spokane, Washington, informs me:

"I would like to say that there are periods when I can talk much better
than for corresponding periods. Indeed, there are times, generally a few
days at a time, when it is most difficult for me to talk with even a
slight degree of correctness; and, then, there are periods of as long, or
longer, duration when speech seems to flow with more ease, though never
perfect, except for a few words in succession."

More than this, according to one diligent investigator, the majority of
stammerers fail to stammer if addressed in such a way that their replies
are made without their realising that they are talking. Says this

"Suppose a stammerer is engaged in a deep study and unaware of your
presence. You speak to him softly. He answers readily, without hesitation,
in an absent manner. Again, you ask a careless question, implying by your
manner that you do not expect or desire an answer; to this he quickly and
easily replies also. Now, look straight at him and pointedly interrogate
him. See, when it becomes necessary for him to speak, how he is thrown
into confusion."

It has further been found that most stammerers are at their worst when in
the presence of strangers. Some stammer scarcely at all when at home with
their relatives and intimate friends. On the opposite, there are some who
stammer worse than usual when with relatives. Not so long ago I learned of
one stammerer--a young lady who had stammered from early childhood--whose
trouble was most in evidence when she was talking with her mother. Almost
all stammerers, too, enjoy temporary relief from their speech defect when
greatly startled, angry, or otherwise excited.

Decidedly, then, it is not from anatomical or physiological inability
to speak that a stammerer suffers. It is, rather, from a psychological
inability. That is to say, the facts just mentioned indicate strongly that
stammering is primarily a mental malady--that it is due to the presence,
in the mind of the stammerer, of some idea or ideas that inhibit the
normal functioning of the organs of speech. This conclusion is confirmed
by the additional circumstance that nearly every stammerer who has been
questioned on the subject admits that he is perpetually tormented by a
haunting dread of not being able to express himself clearly to others, and
so of exposing himself to their ridicule, contempt, or pity. Many, indeed,
affirm their conviction that if they could only overcome this dread they
would be free from their affliction. "I believe," is a characteristic
utterance of stammerers, "that if I were to wake up some morning with
total forgetfulness that I had ever stammered, I should never stammer

Still more significant is the fact that, of the many methods which have
been invented for the treatment of stammering--and which include such
curious devices as beating time with every word, and wearing artificial
supports under the tongue--all have had to their credit a certain--however
small--proportion of genuine cures. This would suggest, not that they
have been intrinsically valuable, but that, in the cases cured, they so
impressed the mind of the stammerer with their therapeutic virtue as to
banish his long-entertained belief that he could not talk like other
people. For that matter, recent experiments go to bear out the view that
almost any method, no matter how fantastic, will cure some stammerers, if
only they have a lively faith in its efficacy.

For example, there was once brought to the Boston City Hospital a woman
of thirty-five, who, though formerly speaking without any difficulty, had
begun to stammer in a frightful manner, following a violent quarrel with
her husband. She could utter scarcely a sound, except weirdly inarticulate
noises, and these only by a great effort. The physician to whom her
case was entrusted soon became satisfied that she was suffering mainly
from a profound belief that she would never be able to talk again; and
he therefore endeavoured to reason her out of this, but to no purpose.
Finally, he abandoned the attempt, and, after leaving her pretty much to
her own devices for several days, impressively said to her one morning, in
a tone of great authority:

"Well, Mrs. Blank, I have been looking carefully into your case, and I
find there is one way certain to cure you. It may be a little painful, but
I know you will not mind that, as long as it is going to make you entirely

So saying, and with an air of the utmost confidence, he began to apply
to her an electric current, just strong enough to make her wince. Only a
few treatments of this sort were found necessary to enable the hospital
authorities to discharge her as cured--and she stayed cured.

Of late, consequently, with growing recognition of the dominant psychic
factor in stammering, there has been an increasing tendency--though as
yet it is far from universal--to employ psychological methods in treating
stammerers. The effort is made to instil confidence in the sufferer--to
convince him that he need only exercise his will power to bring about
his own cure. In a good many cases, and frequently with gratifying
results, resort is had to hypnotism, the "suggestion" being reiterated
to the patient, while in the hypnotic state, that in the future he will
experience none of his overwhelming sensations of dread and anxiety and
will speak as fluently as persons who have never stammered. Or he may
be treated by psychic re-education, which consists essentially in the
development of volitional control by suggestions tactfully imparted in
the ordinary waking state. All of which unquestionably marks a tremendous
advance over the theories and practices based on the alleged anatomical
or physiological defects of stammerers.

There is this to be added, though, that, sanely beneficial as is the
psychological treatment of stammering, it often happens that the
confidence-inspiring suggestions given to stammerers do not "take."
The stammerer, albeit he may perhaps show improvement for a time,
remains without clear articulatory power. When this occurs, the natural
tendency among those treating him--in view of the demonstrated truth
that stammering is the effect of a peculiar state of mind--is to throw
the blame on the patient instead of on the method. Yet, actually, it is
the method that is at fault--or, to be exact, it is the failure to apply
the method, which itself is thoroughly sound--in such a way as to remove
from the stammerer's mind not only the fear that haunts him and helps to
perpetuate his stammering, _but also the ideas in which his stammering

Here we come to the central fact in the whole problem of stammering--a
fact which, when it is widely enough known and appreciated, is certain to
exert a far-reaching influence on the prevention of stammering, as well
as its cure. Until very recently, few have been aware of this fact except
a small group of foreign investigators, physicians with a psychological
training, whose special business it has been to determine scientifically
the possibilities, the limitations, and the exact procedures to be
followed in supplementing, by wholly mental treatment, the ordinary
medical and surgical treatment of disease. Impressed by the predominance
of the mental factor in stammering, these investigators were particularly
impressed by some of the peculiarities mentioned above--as, the ability
of almost every stammerer to speak well when alone or when in a state of
abstraction. Such peculiarities, they knew from long experience, bore a
strong resemblance to oddities in the behaviour of victims of hysteria,
psychasthenia, or other psychoneurosis, in all of which disorders there
is a tendency for symptoms to disappear when the sufferer's attention
is momentarily withdrawn from them. Accordingly, it seemed to the
investigators quite possible that, in the last analysis, stammering was
not so much a disease in itself as a psychoneurotic symptom.

They were well aware, for reasons already set forth in these pages, that
psychoneurotic disorders have their origin in emotional disturbances of
one sort or another, which, occurring to a person of nervous temperament
or rendered neurally unstable by a faulty upbringing, react adversely
on the entire organism. Exactly what happens is that the emotional
disturbance--whether it be a fright, a grief, a worry, or what not--while
perhaps completely forgotten by the victim, so far as conscious
recollection is concerned, remains subconsciously alive in his memory,
is ever seeking to emerge again into conscious remembrance, and, failing
to do this, takes its revenge, so to speak, by the production of disease
symptoms ranging from mere eccentricities of thought and behaviour to
symptoms mimicking those of true organic disease.

Also, the investigators knew that the particular form these mentally
caused symptoms take depends chiefly on the kind of suggestions received
from the sufferer's environment. If he chances, for instance, to have
a relative or a friend who is a paralytic, he may, in time, develop
pseudosymptoms of paralysis himself. Or, if his nervous equilibrium
be sufficiently upset, he may develop them from merely hearing or
reading about them. Whatever the symptoms he manifests, his malady is
curable--precisely as it was produced--by mental means alone. Often, a
counter-suggestion, to the effect that henceforth the psychoneurotic
person will be perfectly well, is enough to work his cure. Or, permanently
curative effects may be had only when, by special techniques devised
for the express purpose of rummaging through the subconsciousness, the
forgotten memory, or memories, responsible for the psychoneurosis are
brought to light, and the specific suggestion directly or indirectly made
that from that time they will do no harm. Sometimes, experience has shown,
the mere recalling of them to conscious remembrance is enough to put an
end to the disease symptoms they have caused.

On the view that stammering is similarly a psychoneurotic symptom, and
that, when it fails to yield to treatment by general suggestion, it is
because the subconscious memories underlying it are too intense to be
thus subdued, this group of investigators undertook to treat it as they
would any stubborn psychoneurosis. The outcome of their experiments has
been such that I feel justified in declaring that science has at last
penetrated to the true inwardness of stammering. These psychologically
trained physicians have taken stammerers who had well-nigh exhausted their
hopes and their resources in a futile quest for normal speech, and, after
subjecting them to the searching methods of psychological analysis, have
sent them on their way rejoicing, either in a perfect cure or in a lasting
improvement far beyond their expectation.

Citing a few instances of actual occurrence, a German member of the
group, Doctor B. Dattner, was once consulted by a stammerer of thirty-six,
who had been burdened by his speech defect from boyhood. He had first
stammered, he told Doctor Dattner, after an attack of diphtheria, at the
age of nine; and he had for some time been treated on the supposition that
the diphtheria had caused a peculiar kind of throat paralysis.[13] This
treatment failing, he had sought relief by other means, always without
more than temporary benefit. Like many another stammerer, he spoke of the
abnormal dread that harassed him, especially when with strangers, and
expressed the belief that if he could conquer this he would be free from
his stammer.

"Ah, but," Doctor Dattner pointed out, "do you not realise that, after
all, your dread is caused by--not the cause of--your stammer? It has
helped, doubtless, to keep it alive and to aggravate it. But it has
not been the thing that originally made you stammer. That we must seek

"You mean in the attack of diphtheria?"

"Not at all. I mean in something that happened to you before you had
diphtheria--something which so exceedingly distressed you that it was
continually uppermost in your thoughts, and which finally worked on you so
much that when your nervous system was weakened by the diphtheria it gave
rise to your stammering. Now, we are going to try to discover what that
something was, and, when we have done so, it will be possible really to
cure you. Can you recall any particularly disagreeable incident of your
childhood occurring at any time before you were ill of diphtheria?"

"No," said the other, after a little reflection, "I think that I was
perfectly happy as a child, and certainly I was treated kindly."

"Just the same, something must have happened at that period to disturb
you very much. Let us find out, if we can, what it was."

To this end, Doctor Dattner now made use of the "free association
method of mental analysis," which consists in requesting the patient to
concentrate his attention on his symptoms, and state without reserve the
thoughts coming to him in connection with them--the theory being that, if
there is any exceptionally distressing idea underlying them, the current
of his spoken thoughts will, soon or late, reveal it. In the present
instance, this method at first brought forth only trivial and commonplace
memory associations. But, after a time, a reminiscence of intense
emotional colouring suddenly emerged.

It related to an episode of the stammerer's eighth year, shortly before
his attack of diphtheria, when he was pounced upon and frightened almost
into convulsions by a huge black dog. This had virtually faded from his
conscious memory; but now, as he sat in the quiescent mood enjoined on
all patients undergoing psychoanalytic treatment, it welled up into full
recollection, every detail of it being vividly recalled--the sight of
the dog, the emotions of fear and horror, the hysterical shrieking that
followed his escape, the difficulty his parents had in convincing him that
he was unharmed. He used to lie awake, he remembered, thinking of the dog;
he used to dream of it; the thought of it was always with him.

"Precisely," said Doctor Dattner, drily. "And, you see, the thought of it
is still with you, for look how graphically you have described it all. The
trouble is that it has been leading an independent existence, as it were,
in the depths of your mind, with all its original emotional intensity.
Your stammering, I can assure you, has been nothing more than the external
manifestation, the symbol, of its continuing presence, and of the deadly
power it has had over you--sensitive, impressionable child that you must
have been. But I can also assure you that your stammering will now come
to an end; for we have not only found its cause in the subconsciously
remembered shock of your boyhood, but we have actually removed that cause
by the very fact of recalling it to your conscious recollection and,
consequently, finding a normal outlet for the repressed emotions."

Altogether, it had required just six hours of psychoanalysis, at the rate
of about an hour a day, to recover this horror-encrusted memory of the
stammerer's childhood. But, with its recall, and strikingly validating
Doctor Dattner's confident prediction, he once more began to enjoy the
blessing of a facile, flowing speech.

In another case--treated by the American neurologist, Doctor Coriat, who
has made extensive use of psychoanalytic methods--the patient was a man of
middle age, who stammered not only when he spoke, but even when he wrote,
repeating letters and syllables in anything he tried to put on paper. He
had been to two stammering schools and had been discharged from both as
cured, but each time had speedily relapsed.

As in the case of Doctor Dattner's patient, psychoanalysis demonstrated
that the causal agency of his stammering was a lingering subconscious
remnant of distressing emotional states experienced in childhood. Only,
in this instance, the distressing states related, not to an unexpected,
stupefying fright, but to painful reveries indulged in as a child, and
occasioned by certain unpleasant stories he had been told regarding the
end of the world and the fate of the sinful.

"These," he recalled, "took complete possession of my mind. I became
convinced that the end of the world could not be long delayed, and I was
in an agony of terror. Constantly I kept asking myself what I should do to
escape destruction. I knew I was a bad boy--very bad. Nothing could atone
for the sins I fancied I had committed. But I kept my fears to myself; I
did not dare confide them to others. Night and day I worried about them,
picturing to myself the terrible happenings of the approaching time of

Until psychoanalysis brought them up to the surface of consciousness, he
had long ceased to think of these foolish imaginings of childhood. He had
as entirely forgotten them as though he had never entertained them. But,
as the event showed, it was their malign influence, working on a nervous
system already infirm by defects of inheritance, that had produced a
psychoneurosis which, in his case, had taken the form of a speech disorder
through the suggestions unconsciously absorbed by watching his mother, who
likewise suffered from a peculiar variety of stammering.

Another of Doctor Coriat's patients--a young woman--impressed him,
from the day of her first visit, with her extreme timidity and
self-consciousness. Both were so pronounced as to be abnormal, and he
immediately suspected that they, in common with her stammering, would be
found linked with subconscious memories of occurrences that had tended to
deprive her of proper appreciation of her abilities and rights. She proved
a good hypnotic subject, and, knowing that in hypnosis long-forgotten
events are easily recalled, Doctor Coriat questioned her as to her
previous history.

"Can you remember," he asked her, "just when it was that you began to

"It was when I was a very little girl."

"Had any one or anything greatly frightened you before then?"


"What was it?"

"It was my father."

Then followed, in answer to further questions, a long series of
reminiscences of the severe discipline imposed on her in earliest
childhood by her father, a stern, hard man. As she related them, she
seemed to feel again all the emotions that they had provoked--the
shame, grief, fear, doubt, longing for sympathy. Literally, she lived
through them anew, and to the trained understanding of the physician it
was evident that she had never really forgotten them--although, in the
waking state, she was able to recall her childhood only vaguely--but
had subconsciously dwelt on them all her life, to the wrecking of her
self-confidence, as well as the causing of her troubles of speech. Only by
completely blotting them out, through psychotherapeutic means, could her
restoration to health be effected.

Similarly, it has been found that emotional disturbances are at the bottom
of stammering when it develops, not in childhood, but in adult life. A
particularly instructive case, because of the insight it affords into the
ingenuity with which the expert psychoanalyst gets at the truth in even
the most complicated cases of functional nervous or mental disorder, is
one that was successfully handled by Doctor A. A. Brill, already mentioned
in these pages, a pupil of the pioneer Austrian psychoanalyst, Doctor
Sigmund Freud. Doctor Brill's patient was a man who, after an early life
untroubled by speech defect, had begun to stammer from no discernible
cause, and had been stammering for a number of years before he consulted
the New York specialist. Several weeks of psychoanalysis elicited nothing
that would account for his trouble, and Doctor Brill was in much
perplexity, until he one day noticed that the words on which his patient
chiefly stammered were words beginning with or containing the letter
"k." It occurred to him that this letter might have some significant
association in the stammerer's mind, but the latter denied that it could

However, after psychoanalysis had proceeded further, Doctor Brill learned
that there had been an event in the patient's life, though occurring some
little time before the development of the stammering, that had made a most
painful, even agonising, impression on him. He had been engaged to a young
woman who had eloped with his closest friend; and this had so wrought on
him that he had vowed never to utter her name again.

"And what was her name?" asked Doctor Brill.

The stammerer stared at him and burst into a violent tirade.

"Haven't I just told you," he cried, "that I have taken an oath never to
speak it? What business is it of yours, anyway? What bearing can it have
on my trouble of speech?"

"Only this bearing--that it may be the means of curing you. Come, now, I
am sorry you have taken an oath, because you will have to break it and
tell me the name."

"I'll die first."

With this he seized his hat and dashed out of the doctor's office in a
frenzy of indignation. Doctor Brill did not see him again for a month.
Then he returned, repentant. He would tell the name, he said, on condition
that Doctor Brill did not write it down in the detailed record which,
as is customary, he was making of the case. To this a prompt assent was
given, and the troublesome name was as promptly made known. As Doctor
Brill had expected, it began with K. He then said, leaning forward and
showing his sheet of notes:

"See, I have kept my promise. I have called her Miss W. And, now, we'll
soon have you quite well."

But on his next visit the patient was in despair. He was, he protested,
stammering worse than ever. Words that had never given him any trouble
before were now almost unpronounceable by him. On investigation, it turned
out that they were, one and all, words in which the letter "w" had a place.

"At last," said Doctor Brill, "we know for a certainty what has made you
stammer. It was the foolish oath you took, which served to sustain in your
mind the memory of the terrible experience you went through on account of
your faithless sweetheart. Vowing never to utter her name, yet thinking
constantly of her, you have unconsciously made it difficult for you to
utter even words in which the most prominent letter of that name--its
initial--occurs. And, now, since she has become Miss W. to you, as well as
Miss K., you are stammering on words with "w," as well as words with "k."
We must free you from the torment of that vow and of the pent-up emotions
that go with the forbidden name, and then you will never stammer more."

To this mode of dealing with stammerers could anything be in stronger
contrast than the brutal Dieffenbach technique? The latter exemplifies,
if in an extreme form, the folly of attempting--as is so often done, even
to-day--to treat stammering on a basis of imperfect observation. The
former shows the happy results that may be obtained when it is attacked in
the light of thorough investigation. No; it is neither by the surgeon's
knife nor by the use of mechanical appliances or physiological devices
that stammering is to be really conquered, but by intelligent application
of the wonderful remedial measures which modern medical psychology has
worked out.

Stammering, to recapitulate, is not at bottom an anatomical or
physiological trouble. Its individual peculiarities, varied as they
are, all tend to prove that it is a mental malady, symptomatic of a
psychoneurosis having its origin in subconscious emotional states. The
rôle that heredity plays in it is merely to provide the soil in which it
can flourish. Of wholly mental causation, it is curable by mental means,
whether by faith in the efficacy of any method of treatment, however
intrinsically worthless that method may be; by "suggestions" of a general
character; or, if needful, by specific recall and eradication of the
"forgotten memories" that underlie it.

Lest, however, I raise hope unduly, I would at once add that not even the
most expert practitioners in psychoanalysis, or in any other psychological
mode of treating stammering, are justified in guaranteeing an absolute
or an "approximate" cure in every case. Experience is showing that the
"emotional complexes" responsible for stammering are, in many cases,
so deep-seated--and often so entangled in later complexes--that it is
virtually impossible to get at them by any present-known method of mind
tunnelling. And, in many other cases, the process of psychoanalysis is so
slow and tedious that the stammerer is all too likely to lose heart and
abandon the effort at cure.

Consequently, in respect to stammering, prevention becomes of more
than usual importance. And the prevention of stammering, I trust I
have already made amply clear, rests chiefly with parents. It is again
primarily a question of guarding the young from needless emotional
stresses, of early training to foster in children calmness, courage,
self-confidence; so that, when inevitable shocks and trials come, they
will have no power to overwhelm the mind and give birth to stammering or
any other neurotic evil.


[Footnote 13: It is important to recognise that certain organic diseases
of the central nervous system do sometimes, through destructive action
on the lower speech centres, cause incurable speech defect resembling
stammering. Thus, a "stammerer" whom I referred to Doctor Coriat was
found to be a victim, not of true stammering, but of the effects of
a paralysis-causing organic disease experienced in early life. This
condition, however, is of infrequent occurrence; and its presence can be
readily determined by a neurologist.]




"Every ugly thing told to the child, every shock, every fright given him,
will remain like minute splinters in the flesh to torture him all his life

Thus said the famous Italian scientist, Angelo Mosso, a good many
years ago. The facts of more recent research into the psychology and
psychopathology of childhood, as reviewed in the preceding chapters,
vindicate Professor Mosso's statement to an extent and in ways undreamed
of by him. Nor is it only the emotionally disturbing things seen, heard,
or experienced by children that may have a decisively adverse influence
on their development. Harm may similarly and equally be done by the books
and stories they read, even to the extent of provoking or accentuating
nervous maladies. Particularly mischievous in this respect, because
of their wide reading by children, are certain fairy tales which many
parents--nay, I might say, nearly all parents--consider quite suitable for
young readers.

You smile incredulously at the suggestion that a fairy tale could possibly
affect a child harmfully. Still more preposterous seems to you the idea
that the harmful effects of fairy tales--if such harmful effects actually
occur--may be carried over into adult life. But, listen:

To the Doctor Brill of the letter "k" stammering case just narrated,
there once came a young man of twenty-eight, afflicted with a strange and
alarming malady.

"Doctor," he said, "I want your candid opinion as to what is the matter
with me. Physically I feel well, but mentally I am badly off. In fact,
I fear I am insane, and dangerously so. For a long time I have been
tormented by a strange desire to bite and stab people and to torture them
in all sorts of ways. I yearn for the times when everybody carried the
dirk and dagger and could kill when offended. As yet I have restrained my
mad impulse, but I am in terror lest I give way to it. Is there anything
you can do to help me?"

The mere fact that he thus clearly recognised and candidly confessed his
mental state was in itself a hopeful sign. But Doctor Brill was well aware
that it might be extremely difficult to cure him, perhaps impossible.
Everything would depend, in the first place, on whether the young man
were actually insane or merely the victim of a psychoneurotic obsession.
If the latter, there was a possibility of his being cured, provided
the subconscious region of his mind could be explored with sufficient
thoroughness to get at and root out the ideas underlying and responsible
for his dangerous obsession. Satisfying himself that it actually was a
case of psychoneurosis, Doctor Brill began the work of mental exploration.
And, knowing that submerged ideas are pretty sure to reveal themselves,
directly or indirectly, through the character of a person's dreams, he
began by directing the young man to make a written record of his dreaming.

"Whenever you have a dream," he told him, "I want you to write it down as
soon as you awake, and bring me an account of it."

Before long, Doctor Brill was in possession of a remarkable collection
of dreams, many of which, as he had expected, were of an exceedingly
unpleasant character. Analysing these dreams, a curious fact at once
became evident--namely, that the patient's mental life was largely
occupied with imaginings that related, not to the world of everyday
existence, but to the people and events of mythology and fairy tale.

Always, too, in his subconscious imaginings, ideas of death and
violence were uppermost. During the dream-analysis he recalled with
special vividness such themes as the beheading of Medusa, the cruelties
of Bluebeard, and the freezing to death of Eva, heroine of Bryant's
"Little People of the Snows." Even trivial details in the settings of
these and similar fairy tales were remembered and brought out in his
dream-associations with a fulness that astonished the patient himself.
Dr. Brill comments:

"He was very imaginative, so that the harrowing adventures enacted by
fairies, genii, and Greek deities, on which he was constantly fed, were
deeply interwoven with his own life, and he built up for himself a
strange, archaic world. He liked to be alone, and often wandered away from
his companions, to act through, in his own way, the adventures of which he
had just heard or read.

"He himself traced the selection of his profession--that of an actor--to
these boyish actions when he tried to imitate the fleet-footed Mercury,
some character from fairyland or the "Arabian Nights," or some savage
Indians. He thus imagined himself flying, and beheading monsters above
the clouds, or penetrating to the centre of the earth in the form of some
wicked magician, all the time passing through the most harrowing scenes.
By a process of condensation, he fused ancient characters and episodes
with persons and actions of reality, but his fancies usually began with
some god-like or demon-like myth and gradually descended to human beings.

"During the first few weeks of the analysis he was in the habit of merging
into a dreamy state while reproducing associations, and often became so
excited that the work had to be temporarily interrupted."[14]

It was unnecessary to seek much further for the explanation of the
obsession of torture. In large part, at all events, this was quite
evidently the expression in consciousness of the gruesome images with
which the patient's mind had been filled by the tales told him in his
childhood. Though faded from conscious remembrance, they had remained with
him subconsciously, to influence for evil the current of his conscious
thoughts. Or, to put the matter tersely: Had tales of cruelty and violent
death not been told him in his early days, he might never have been
afflicted in manhood with his morbid longings to inflict pain.

Of course, if this case stood by itself it would be of no great
significance. But the fact is that during the past few years--or since
physicians began to appreciate the part played by childhood impressions
in causing mental and nervous disease--evidence has been accumulating
to indicate that the almost universal custom of telling fairy tales to
children does entail grave risks to their character and their health. The
child of normal nervous constitution is likely to be affected only in
character; the supersensitive, neurotic child may be hurried, by the tales
he hears or reads, into some more or less serious mental or nervous malady.

Let me hasten to add that this does not mean that the fairy tale should
be entirely banished from the literature of childhood. It means only that
parents should exercise more discrimination than they usually show in
selecting fairy tales for their children. The rightly chosen fairy tale is
indeed an almost indispensable aid in the early education of children,
for reasons that are admirably summarised by an American educator, Mr.
Percival Chubb, in these words:

"One value in fairy stories for the young is that they embody and
commemorate the man-child's first rude assertion of the lordship of mind,
and subserve the development of a later sense of spiritual freedom and
autonomy. Another is that they are expressive, as all art is expressive,
of the idealistic hunger at the heart of men. Again, as forms of art, they
select and co-ordinate those facts which bring out the spiritual meanings
of life. That is, they release from the unsifted materials of experience
the imprisoned 'Soul of Fact.' And not only do they embody the basic moral
insights and interpretations of childish man, but they express the simple
and larger emotions, and so feed the heart of the child. They quicken,
too, the imagination--that master-faculty without which the sympathy
which is man's highest and richest endowment fails of fruition. They are
an aid to culture by giving an outlook upon all nations and kindreds,
all countries and conditions of life. Finally, along with their allied
forms of literary invention, the myth, saga, fable, and so on, they are
a condition to understanding the innumerable allusions with which the
literature of the world is studded."[15]

All this is assuredly the function of the fairy tale, but frequently it
is frustrated by the kind of fairy tales children are allowed to read.
For one thing, the imaginative faculty is scarcely stimulated in a
healthy fashion when the mind is led to dwell constantly, as in the case
of Doctor Brill's patient, on thoughts of cruelty and pain. Nor can the
fairy tale be said to have exerted a healthy influence in such a case as
that represented by a little girl who was brought for treatment to another
medical psychologist, and whose morbid irritability, disobedience, and
crying spells were, by psychological analysis, traced to an excessive
jealousy of her brother. In the course of the analysis the discovery was
made that the girl had frequent dreams of seeing both her mother and her
brother cruelly treated. In one dream, witches shut her mother in a cave
to starve to death, and threw her brother into a large caldron of boiling
water, leaving her to perish miserably.

"This dream," the little girl naïvely explained to the physician who was
analysing her mental states, "is just like the fairy tales I read."

Other dreams of cruelty were likewise found to be drawn from the reading
of unpleasant fairy tales. So that, although in this case jealousy was
undoubtedly the chief cause of the nervous condition for which treatment
was required, fairy tales also played a part in directing the course of
the little girl's morbid thinking and her difficult behaviour. Warned
by this revelation of the dream-analysis, her physician made it a point
to notify her mother that unless steps were taken to change the girl's
reading matter she might develop traits of character--harshness,
coldness, indifference to the sufferings of others--that would handicap
her throughout life.

Or, instead of causing an abnormal harshness, the fairy tale abounding in
gory elements may breed an equally abnormal timidity, passing sometimes
beyond the category of a character defect to that of positive disease. A
typical instance is found in the experience of a young New York boy.

"Our son," his parents told the physician, to whom they took him for
treatment, "has suddenly become excitable and nervous, afraid to go
outdoors alone, and still more afraid to sleep alone. If left to himself
after having been put to bed, he often wakes out of a sound sleep,
shrieking for us. When we go to him he seems dazed, and for some moments
does not recognise us. But he cannot tell us what has frightened him, and
in the morning does not remember his alarm."

From this brief description the physician at once recognised that he had
to deal with a case of what is technically known as _pavor nocturnus_,
but better known to the lay public as "night terrors." Having had a
thorough training in medical psychology, he was well aware that night
terrors are grounded in disturbing experiences of the waking life.
Accordingly, he questioned the parents closely.

Insistently they denied that anything had occurred to cause their son
undue anxiety or alarm. Then the physician resorted to psychological
analysis of the boy's mental states and, before long, made the discovery
that his mind was full of frightful images of giants, wizards, and slimy
monsters. Promptly he summoned the father and mother to a conference, and
asked them:

"Have you been reading or telling fairy stories to your boy lately?"

"Why, yes," the mother replied. "He is passionately fond of them, and I
tell him some every day."

"And what, may I ask, are the stories that you tell to him most

"'Jack the Giant Killer' is one. He is also particularly fond of 'The Boy
Who Did Not Know How to Shiver.'"

"Well, madam," said the physician, gravely, "I must ask you either to
stop telling him fairy tales or to choose for him fairy tales with less
gruesome elements in them. He is a boy of nervous temperament, and,
figuratively speaking, he has been poisoned by the fear-images that are
so abundant in the stories he has heard. Take him out into the open air,
turn his thoughts to other things, and be more discreet in your choice of
reading matter for him. Unless you do this, there is danger that he will
yet suffer from something far more serious than night terrors."

The truth of this last statement may be concretely re-enforced by another
citation from recent medical experience--the case, not of a young boy, but
of a man of thirty, who came to Doctor Brill with a remarkable story.

"Ever since my boyhood," he related, "I have fainted at seeing blood. Now
I feel weak and dizzy, and sometimes I faint outright, at anything which
merely brings into my mind the thought of blood. I am afraid to talk to
certain people because they are likely to speak about accidents which make
me think of blood. The sight of a man who looks like a doctor suggests an
operation, and at once I feel faint. On one occasion I fainted away while
my blood pressure was being taken. It was not that I was afraid of having
my blood pressure taken; it was simply that the word 'blood' brought on
the usual attack. You do not appreciate the difficulty I have in telling
you all this. Every time I mention the word to you I have to get a grip on
myself. I fear I must seem very weak and foolish, but I cannot overcome
the horror I feel. Unless you help me, I do not know what I shall do. I
cannot go on this way indefinitely."

In answer to Doctor Brill's questions, he insisted nothing had occurred
in his life that could give rise to his "phobia," or morbid dread of
blood. He had been in no bad accident, had undergone no serious surgical
operation, had witnessed no sanguinary scenes of any sort.

"Nevertheless," Doctor Brill assured him, "there is a logical reason for
your abnormal fear. It is evidently buried deep in your mind; but there
are ways of getting at it, and get at it we must."

Psychological analysis, patiently carried on for many days, ultimately
brought the truth to light. His phobia, it appeared, had its real starting
point in early childhood, and, not least, in certain sensational fairy
stories read to him by a nurse when he was quite young--stories which he
himself continued to read at a later age.

"These bloody and horrible stories," to quote Doctor Brill, "made a strong
impression upon him. He would form fancies about them on going to sleep at
night, substituting himself for the hero."

"Bluebeard" was one story that especially impressed him. Another was a
charming tale about a false princess who was rolled in a barrel, into
which long pointed spikes had been driven.

As he grew older, there had been the usual fading from memory of
these stories and the imaginings to which they had given rise. But,
subconsciously, they had never been forgotten, and out of them there had
gradually developed the obsessive and seemingly inexplicable dread of

In another case, the "Bluebeard" story responsible for the night
terrors of a sensitive little girl, remained so indelibly fixed in her
subconsciousness that in adult life she often had nightmares, in which, to
her great distress, she was attacked by men who were "frightful looking
on account of their blue beards." Even more impressively illustrative of
the permanence and possible ill effects of tales of the horrible heard
in early life is the case of a man fifty years old, who had to receive
medical treatment because he "could not fall asleep without living
through--for at least an hour, sometimes even longer--some distorted story
from fairy books or mythology."

That common phobia of childhood, fear of the dark, is often traceable
to fairy tales, and, in many cases, persists in some degree through
later life. Let me quote, on this important point, the testimony of a
Washington physician, Doctor T. A. Williams, who has made a special study
of nervousness in childhood:

"Morbid fears are a great distress to many people. They have nearly always
arisen in early childhood, and have been inculcated by injudicious nurses,
tales of goblins and fairies being most prolific in this respect.

"The ineradicability of fears, when inculcated in early childhood, is
clearly illustrated by a Southern lady who, even in advanced age, dared
not go alone into the dark, although she had long ceased to believe in the
stories which had made her afraid to do so. She realised this so forcibly
that she would not permit her three daughters to be told any of the
alarming stories which most Southern children learn. This resulted in the
girls never having known what it meant to be afraid of the dark. Indeed,
it was the habit of their school fellows to send them off into dark and
eery places to show off their powers."

And, from one of the most experienced psychiatrists of the United States,
Doctor W. A. White, superintendent of the great Government Hospital for
the Insane, at Washington, we have this emphatic statement as to the
general relationship between fairy tales and mental diseases:

"You will find, not infrequently, that the precipitating factors in
psychoses come from the books of fairy tales which your children are
allowed to feed upon."

Of course, as already intimated, a mental overthrow from the hearing or
reading of fairy tales presupposes an undue impressionability on the
victim's part. But how are parents to determine whether or no their
children's psychic make-up is such as to render them immune from the
possible mind-enfeebling effects of "horror tales"? And, in any event, let
me repeat with all the emphasis at my command, there is reason to believe
that no child can escape some stunting or distorting of character if
brought up on a diet of ultra-sanguinary fairy tales.

As I write these lines, a stupendous war is raging in Europe with a
ferocity that appals the outside world. Especially atrocious is the
policy of one of the embattled nations, formerly regarded as a leader
in modern civilisation. To attain its ends, this nation has violated
treaty obligations as though they were of no consequence whatever; it has
ruthlessly slain innocent noncombatants, even the citizens of neutral
countries; wherever it has been victorious, it stands accused of vile
brutalities. In its attitude towards its own soldiers it has displayed an
almost incredible callousness, hurling them to certain destruction with
cold-blooded nonchalance.

Beholding all this, the people of other lands marvel and question. That,
in the twentieth century, even under the stress of war, a civilised nation
should thus revert to barbarism seems to baffle explanation. For myself,
however, I am convinced that at least a partial explanation is to be
found in the fact that the offending nation is one among whom the myth,
the legend, and the fairy tale have pre-eminently flourished.

In the stories which distinguished scholars have eagerly assisted to make
available to the youth of this nation, indifference to human suffering and
human life are too often conspicuous elements. Too often they are tinged
by more than a suggestion of bloodthirstiness, cruelty, and the principle
of revenge. When the childish mind has been fed upon these, stimulated by
them to unhealthy fancies, and re-enforced in those instincts inherited
from the primitive, which it should be the business of education to weaken
and repress, is it to be wondered at that, in the crisis of war, there has
been a veritable relapse to primitive savagery?

In some degree, moreover, all the warring nations have been bred on fairy
tales, and, in some degree, all have exhibited the same tendency to the
cruel ways of primitive man. Throughout the world a fairy tale reform is
needed for the development and maintenance of a true civilisation.

But, mark you, it is a reform that is needed, not a banishment of the
fairy tale. As some one has well said, a child who never hears a fairy
tale is developing a tract in his soul that, in later life, will grow
barren. More than this, cases are on record indicating that unless the
child's instinctive craving for the romantic and the ideal is satisfied by
well-chosen fairy tales, he may gratify this craving in ways that shock
his elders.

I will give one instance, by way of concrete illustration. For knowledge
of this I am indebted to President Hall, of Clark University, and I give
it in President Hall's own words:

"Two immigrants in New York brought up their daughter, born here, on a
diet of literal truth, and tabooed fiction, poetry, and imagination as
lies. She was bright, at twelve had never read a fairy tale or a story
book, but was continually dreamy and ardent-souled, with a great passion
and talent for music. Her mother once told her that she might, perhaps,
play some time to the President. Soon after, at the dedication of Grant's
Tomb, she saw Mr. and Mrs. McKinley. One day, soon afterwards, she rushed
in, breathless, saying that they had visited her school, heard her play,
might adopt her, would give papa a place in Washington, and so on; but
Mrs. McKinley was out of funds, and her husband was in Washington.

"Accordingly, Gertrude's father drew a hundred from his fortune of
fourteen hundred dollars in the bank and sent it by his daughter, who
brought back costly flowers. Upon more excuses, more money was loaned,
and more presents were sent to Gertrude's parents--a canary, a puppy,
a diamond ring. Gertrude conversed intelligently on political topics,
and her father gave up his position, as he was about to accept a
five-thousand-dollar job in Washington.

"Then came the crash. Gertrude had never met the President or his wife,
but had made lavish presents and had bought many articles, which she had
stored with a neighbour; and, to her parents' especial horror, had laid in
a large stock of fairy tales and other fiction."

With justification, President Hall adds: "This points a moral against the
pedagogic theory that would starve the imagination."[16]

In truth, the cultivation of the imaginative faculty by means of the fairy
tale is one of the great opportunities of parenthood. Only see to it that
the fairy tales employed for this purpose do not reek of brutality and
gore, of treachery and cunning.

And see to it that elements like these are not unduly conspicuous in any
other kind of tales you put into the hands of your children. Give them
no books to read, tell them no stories that may react on a sensitive
mind to the development either of callousness or fear. Be careful even
with regard to the tales you tell your children in the course of their
religious education. Dwell on the rewards of goodness rather than on the
punishments of sin. In the religious instruction of the young, as in all
other instruction, over-emphasis on the grim and the terrifying may have
unfavourable consequences, persisting to the end of life.

Recall, if you please, the case of the overworked Boston young man,
mentioned in "Psychology and Parenthood" (p. 273). Obsessed with an idea
that he had committed "the unpardonable sin," he was surely drifting
to some institution for the insane, when he was fortunate enough to
come under the care of a physician familiar with the new psychological
discoveries and methods. Recall this young man's autobiographical
statement, given to his physician, after the latter had helped him back to

"My abnormal fear certainly originated from doctrines of hell which I
heard in early childhood, particularly from a rather ignorant elderly
woman who taught Sunday-school. My early religious thought was chiefly
concerned with the direful eternity of torture that might be awaiting me
if I was not good enough to be saved."

You are careful as to the food you give your child's body. Be no less
careful as to the food you give his mind.


[Footnote 14: _The New York Medical Journal_, March 21, 1914.]

[Footnote 15: Proceedings of the National Education Association, 1905, p.
871 _et seq._]

[Footnote 16: "Educational Problems," vol. i, pp. 359-360.]




Reference has already been made more than once, though only in an
incidental way, to the childhood malady of _pavor nocturnus_, or "night
terrors." In any book like the present one the subject of night terrors
is deserving of detailed discussion. Not only do night terrors constitute
a real handicap of childhood, but also they constitute a handicap, the
seriousness of which is not yet appreciated by many people, and the true
nature of which is as yet known to exceedingly few. In some quarters,
indeed, there has been a disposition to minimise this malady, because
it usually is "outgrown" by the eighth or ninth year. But, in reality,
its effects--or, rather, the effects of the condition of which it is
a sign--may, and often do, continue through life. Fortunately, the new
knowledge that psychology has gained concerning it enables parents to
frustrate its evil consequences and, in most cases, to prevent its

At bottom, night terrors are almost identical with the nightmares of adult
years. They are, to put it precisely, juvenile nightmares, with the added
feature of profound disturbance in the waking state. The one real point
of difference between night terrors and nightmares is that the former
indicate a greater degree of nervous strain. The child who is a victim of
night terrors generally has an hour or so of quiet sleep after going to
bed. Then he wakes, shrieking for his mother. When the parents, alarmed,
rush to his room, they are likely to find him out of bed, crouching behind
a chair, or in the corner. His eyes are staring and full of horror. He
seems not to recognise his parents, though he will eagerly clutch at them
for protection. After a few minutes the attack passes off, he quiets down,
returns to bed, and sleeps soundly until morning, when, as a rule, he has
no conscious remembrance of his fears of the night before.

While the night terror is at its height the child may have ghastly
hallucinations, representing a continuance in the waking state of the
dream-images that have distressed him. Also, instead of leaping out of
bed, he may merely sit up, or may find it impossible to move at all, as
is the case with many adults when coming out of a nightmare. A Chicago
physician, describing his experiences as a child, relates:

"When I was five years of age, and during the sixth year, I suffered
from nightmare. I sat up in bed and fancied I saw a monkey come down the
chimney and fasten itself to my shoulder and bite me, and terrify me so
that I would scream out. My older sister would then come, wake me up
thoroughly, and satisfy me that it was but a vision.

"Other nights I would feel a sense of oppression, ringing in ears, a
sensation of perceiving something very small, which, gradually at first,
and then rapidly, assumed enormous proportions and vast whirling speed,
and which, I imagined, whirled me off with it--a buzzing in my ears,
probably. Then would I feel that animals--rats--would creep over me and
press heavily upon me, and I could neither move hand nor foot, nor speak."

The reference to the buzzing in the ears is typical of the attitude
that until lately has been taken by almost all physicians in respect
both to adult and to juvenile nightmares. For that matter, it still is
the attitude of those physicians who are not familiar with the findings
of medical psychology. Nightmare to them, whether in the old or in the
young, is altogether a question of physical causation. As they see it,
one need not look beyond bodily conditions of some sort to understand
the nightmares of adults and the night terrors of children. Accordingly,
treatment by sedatives, dieting, and hygienic measures has been the rule.
Unfortunately, this by no means always succeeds in bringing about the
desired result, although such measures undoubtedly do benefit the general

Seemingly, to be sure, they are especially successful in the case of night
terrors. But it is significant that, even if left untreated, night terrors
seldom persist beyond the period of childhood. Then, however, those who
have had them show a tendency, in many cases, to be troubled by unpleasant
dreams, often taking on the character of most distressing nightmares. The
frequency of these may, or may not, be diminished by the usual treatment
of a dietetic sort. On the other hand, observation has shown that many
persons afflicted with the indigestion and other physical conditions
commonly held responsible for nightmares are not troubled by nightmare
at all. As one observer puts it, even a person whose stomach is half
destroyed by cancer may commit all sorts of dietary indiscretions and not
suffer from nightmare in the slightest.

Evidently, then, physical conditions do not of themselves account for
nightmares and night terrors. One must look elsewhere for their ultimate
cause. This is what the medical psychologists have done, and, doing
this, they have discovered that the children who are troubled by night
terrors are always children of a sensitive nervous organisation who have
been subjected to emotional stress. A child may be nervously highstrung,
yet entirely escape night terrors, provided his mind be kept free from
emotional upheavals. But let anything occur to disturb him emotionally
in an excessive degree and he at once becomes likely to suffer, not only
from night terrors, but also--as it has been a prime purpose of this
book to impress convincingly on every reader--from nervous affections of
a more serious kind. He may even have "day terrors," seeing imaginary
and terrifying objects as vividly as the child who wakes in panic from a
distressing dream.

For example, a boy of eight was sent to the Washington neurologist, Doctor
T. A. Williams, to be treated for general nervousness, and, in particular,
for a tendency "to see things where there is really nothing to be seen."
Doctor Williams found the boy to be so nervous that it was hard for him
to sit still and to keep from wriggling excitedly about in his chair.
Questioned as to his hallucinations, he said that these were mostly of a
snake. He could not describe the imaginary snake, except to say that its
head was like an eel's. It seemed to come from nowhere, and presented
itself to his astonished gaze with a suddenness that caused him to scream
and run. His father gave Doctor Williams the additional information that
these hallucinations were experienced only when the boy was alone, and
that, though his day terrors were not followed by night terrors, he would
not go to bed unless some one were in the room with him.

Questioning his little patient more closely, Doctor Williams next learned
that he had a veritable horror of being alone at any time. As long as
somebody was in sight, he could enjoy his games, and would readily run
errands. Left alone, the imaginary snake, or some hallucinatory wild
beast, was almost at once seen by him. Further inquiry brought out the
significant fact that this fear of solitude had actually been implanted in
the boy by over-anxiety on his mother's part.

His horror of being alone was paralleled by her dread of having him out
of her sight. She was continually thinking, and talking, of risks he
would incur if he were allowed to be by himself. In this way she had
unconsciously infected him with a "fixed idea" that something dreadful was
sure to happen to him unless older persons were at hand to protect him.
This fixed idea preying on his unusually impressionable mind, and keeping
him in a constant state of emotional strain, was the decisive factor in
the production of his day terrors. In proof whereof it need only be added
that his hallucinations and general nervousness ceased to trouble him
soon after corrective training was begun, supplemented by treatment by
"suggestion" to rid him of the abnormal fear of being alone.

Fortunately, though I might detail a number of other cases of day
terrors, this affliction is of rare occurrence, compared with night
terrors. And, from the point of view of the medical psychologist, it is
only to be expected that such should be the case. As explained by Doctor
Williams, in a passage which gives a clear idea of the mechanism of night

"If I say to a small boy that a bear will eat him up, the effect upon
his emotions entirely differs, whether I make the remark with portentous
gravity and horror, or whether I say it with bubbling joviality as,
evidently, a huge joke. In the first eventuality, the boy will rush to
my side in terror and try to be saved from the bear, and a phobia is in
course of construction; with the latter proceeding, the boy will laugh
consumedly, and it would not take much to make him enter the cage and
strike the bear. But, even when terrified, a child feels a refuge in the
protection of his elders during the day, when they are rarely absent....

"At night, however, the child is alone, and his little consciousness
cannot find the support of others. Before the kaleidoscope of his dreams
pass the various images and accompanying emotions of his waking life, so
that if any of these images has become linked with fear it is certain to
bring with it terror, as it surges into dream in the night, and the child
jumps up, awakened, in panic, finding no one near, upon whom to lean."[17]

In many a case of night terrors, no great psychological skill is required
to detect the influence of emotional stress as the prime factor in causing
the alarming attacks. In one instance that has come to my knowledge, a
seven-year-old girl was brought to a physician, with a history of both
night and day terrors. She was subject, her mother said, to attacks of
loud screaming, during which she seemed dazed and in an agony of fear.
The attacks sometimes lasted ten minutes, and immediately afterwards the
girl generally fell into a heavy sleep. Her night terrors were of the
usual sort, except that on the occasion of the first attack she was in
such a panic that she opened her bedroom window and threw herself out of
it. Luckily, it was early evening, and her mother, walking in the garden
beneath her window, was able to catch her and save her from harm.

"She had gone to bed as usual," the mother said, in detailing this
episode, "and seemed to be quite well, though I remember I thought she
looked a little wild about the eyes. For an hour she slept quietly. Then,
as I later learned, she woke up moaning, jumped out of bed, and made for
the window."

"And," asked the physician to whom the child had been taken, "had anything
out of the way occurred to her that day?"


"Are you sure of that?"

"Well, nothing of real account, at all events. I have been told that
somebody jokingly said to her that if she were not a good girl a black man
would come to her room and carry her off. But this did not seem to disturb
her much at the time."

Hereupon, the situation became clear to the physician. It was evident
that, subconsciously if not consciously, the thought of the supposed
danger, acting on a mind none too well organised by inheritance--there
was epilepsy in the family--had acquired sufficient force to bring on the
attack of nocturnal panic and the subsequent attacks of day and night
terrors. Probably, moreover, this was not the first time that statements
of a fear-inspiring character had been made to the child, so that this
last "joke" might well serve to agitate her excessively.

Compare with this the case of a four-year-old boy, whose night terrors
were accompanied by a strange hallucination that he saw the devil, and
that the devil was trying to catch him. Every night for several weeks he
would wake after one or two hours of sleep, would leap from bed with a
shriek, and run wildly around the room, calling on his mother to save him
and to drive the devil out of the house.

Impressed by the recurrence of this hallucination, the physician in charge
of the case questioned the boy's mother as to a possible explanation
for his believing the devil was chasing him. Reluctantly, the mother
confessed that one day when her little son had been unruly she had warned
him that if he did not behave the devil would come for him. It was the
night after she had thus foolishly threatened him that he had his first
attack of _pavor nocturnus_. Armed with this knowledge, the physician
began a course of treatment which effected a cure in a week. It properly
included tonics and dieting to overcome the indigestion and other physical
ailments caused by the strain of nervous excitement. But its principal
feature was treatment by suggestion, to dislodge from the boy's mind his
morbid fear of the devil.

Anything which causes the instinct of fear to function abnormally may
act with decisive force in bringing on night terrors. The telling of
ghost stories and other gruesome tales of the supernatural has been
productive of much harm in this respect. And, as brought out in the
preceding chapter, cases of night terrors have similarly been traced to
the hearing or reading by children of fairy tales containing elements
of the horrible. The child that is supersensitive may be so impressed by
these elements as to brood over them and, in waking reverie, apply them to
himself. Thus they get fixed in the mind, to disturb and alarm it, and,
eventually, to find expression in dreams of so unpleasant a character that
night terrors may be a result.

With the night terrors left untreated psychologically, subsequent nervous
ailments, perhaps lifelong invalidism, may further penalise the hapless
victim of parental thoughtlessness. I am reminded of a certain patient
of Doctor Sidis's, a woman afflicted with neurotic ills up to the age
of sixty, and, when she first consulted the New England specialist,
displaying a most complicated set of disease symptoms. She had kidney
trouble, stomach trouble, frequent headaches, insomnia, and general
nervousness. In especial, she suffered from an obsessive fear of becoming
insane. This fear, at times, was so extreme that she would walk up and
down her room night after night, "like an animal in a cage," to use
Doctor Sidis's expressive phrase. Repeated examinations by different
physicians had failed to bring to light any evidences of organic
disease of stomach, kidneys, or brain, and a diagnosis of hysteria had
finally been made. Consequently, it became Doctor Sidis's special task
to endeavour to get at these latent memory-images that had acted with
disintegrative power on the mental and bodily processes, recall them to
conscious remembrance, and, by suggestive treatment, rob them of their
disease-producing potency.

Step by step, by a method of psychological analysis of his own invention,
he took his patient back through her life history. He found that, in
middle life, she had had several distressing experiences, but none of them
adequate to account for her hysteria. Always, there remained an obscure
element which did not become clearly outlined until, in the course of the
analysis, childhood memories began to emerge. Then it appeared that there
had been a period of night terrors, the source of which was definitely
traced to a shock experienced at the age of five. At that age, through
some mischance, the patient had been allowed to spend some time with an
insane woman who was in a maniacal state.

Of a sensitive nervous organisation to begin with, she was overwhelmed
by this experience. She could not get the image of the insane woman out
of her mind, and the fearful thought kept coming again and again to her,
"Do little girls ever go insane?" Then followed the night terrors, to
be "outgrown" in due course. But the analysis revealed that, though the
memory of her experience with the insane woman had gradually faded from
conscious recollection, it had never been subconsciously forgotten. Even
now, fifty-five years later, she still saw this woman in her dreams.
It was the baneful influence of this shock that had given rise to her
obsessive fear of insanity and had prepared the ground for the condition
of abnormal suggestibility making possible the hysterical imitation of
organic kidney and stomach disease. As was proved by the outcome of
Doctor Sidis's psychotherapeutic treatment.

Now the question comes: If night terrors are so portentous a
danger-signal, how prevent the development of the mentally disturbed and
nervously strained condition which they indicate? This question has,
perhaps, been sufficiently answered in previous chapters. Here I would
simply reaffirm that emotional control is the great object to be kept
steadily in view. It is, indeed, significant that night terrors are most
likely to appear in children having a nervous, excitable father or mother.
The emotionality, the chronic worrying and anxiety of the parent infect
the child by the power of psychic contagion and make him fall an easy prey
to any disquieting experience.

And if, despite well-ordered moral training and the benign influence of
a good parental example, the child shows a tendency to develop night
terrors--what then? Well, here is how one psychologically enlightened
parent nipped in the bud a fear-bred condition that might have resulted
in night terrors or in some specific nervous ailment of the waking life:

"For several weeks my boy, three and a half years old, had been visiting
the zoölogical garden every afternoon, in the company of a French maid
of exceptionally forceful character, and apparently free from the
superstitiousness of the average nurse. For a long time all went well,
until one evening the boy began to cry soon after he was left for the
night. At this unusual occurrence, I mounted the stairs and inquired the
cause of the boy's trouble.

"He said there were lions in the house and that he did not want to stay
alone, as he was afraid they would eat him. The source of the idea had
been that the lions had roared more loudly than usual on that particular
afternoon, and he had been much impressed, standing for some time quite
motionless before the cage, though terrified. I soon convinced the boy
that the lions had to remain in their cages, and could not get out; hence,
there were none in the house, so that there was no occasion to fear. Of
course, it was first necessary to give him the feeling of security gained
by embracing me; and, secondly, to begin the conversation by talking of
something else--I have forgotten what.

"In this way the state of terror was dismissed, and the feeling of
protection was induced before we returned to the subject of the lions.
Then we made rather a joke of the funny roaring of the lions before we
had finished, and he finally lay down, with the solemn purpose to go
to sleep and think, as I suggested, of the tramcars and motors passing
outside his open window. It was all very simple substitution, but it was
the prevention of what might have become a serious fear-psychosis if
injudiciously handled."[18]

It should be added that special need for training in emotional control is
indicated if a child begins to be troubled, not by night terrors, but by
another and more common childhood malady--somnambulism. The child who
talks or walks in his sleep, like the child attacked by night terrors,
is, for some reason, nervously unstrung; and, it may confidently be said,
is usually unstrung because of the presence in his mind of disquieting
ideas, conscious or subconscious. On this account, the parent should not
be satisfied with the measures ordinarily employed in dealing with both
night terrors and somnambulism--the prescribing of tonics and sedatives,
outdoor exercise, abstinence from tea and coffee, reduction in meat in
the diet, and so forth. Undeniably, these measures often result in a
complete cessation of the nocturnal symptoms. But, even if, as a result
of medication, exercise, and dieting, the disquieting ideas causing the
symptoms no longer manifest their presence by the attacks that have
alarmed the parents, these ideas still are left in the mind, perchance to
cause still more alarming symptoms later. Accordingly, the really prudent
parent, besides dieting his child, will endeavour to get at the mental
source of trouble.

Sometimes he can do this by closely observing the behaviour of the child
in his waking moments, and the trend of his waking thoughts. Or he can
do it by gaining the child's confidence and questioning him as to any
fears, worries, or griefs that may be disturbing him. If, as will often
happen, the child insists, it may be in all sincerity, that nothing
is troubling him, there is yet another avenue of information open to
the parent--namely, by questioning the child about his dreams. Through
studying his dreams, in fact, it is possible to gain clearer insight into
his mental life than perhaps by any other means.

Again and again, as we have seen, the modern psychologist has made use of
dream-analysis with illuminating results. Parents can and should similarly
analyse their children's dreams. And I feel justified in predicting that
parents of the future, alert to detect and correct any undesirable trends
in their children's mental and moral development, will make frequent use
of dream-analysis as an aid in successful child-rearing.

The helpfulness of dream-analysis to parents comes from the fact that the
dreams of children usually relate either to things which the children
dread, or things which they desire. This is also true of the dreams of
adults, as shown by the analysis of thousands of dreams. In the case of
adults, however, the fear or the desire mirrored by the dream is nearly
always masked by the variety and seeming absurdity or incongruity of the
dream-images. As when, for example, a complicated, fantastic dream of
adventure in an out-of-the-way part of the world is found, on examination,
to be connected with a secret longing for marriage. Accordingly, prolonged
and tedious analysis is often needed to get at the true meaning of an
adult's dreams. In the case of children's dreams, the opposite is the
rule. There is little repression or distortion, the dream dealing directly
with what is uppermost in the dreamer's waking mind, and emphasising the
fears or fulfilling the wishes of his waking life.

This is what makes dream-analysis both easy and profitable to parents.
Once aware of the wish-fulfilling rôle of dreams, no parent need
experience difficulty in interpretation if his small boy reports to him a
series of dreams like the following:

"It was after school, and I went with other boys to a candy store, and the
storekeeper told us we could have anything we wanted. We had a fine time.
I filled my pockets with chocolates and caramels and peanut candy, besides
what I ate while I was in the store.

"I was at a party, and there was plenty to eat and drink. We had
sandwiches and lemonade, ice cream and cake. After it was over, they told
us we could take away all the food that was not eaten.

"There was a fire in the next street, and I went to see the firemen at
work. It was rainy and cold, and somebody brought out coffee and cake for
the firemen. There was more than they could eat, so they gave me some."

Dreamed by a small boy living in a poor home, dreams like these would be
of a pathetic, rather than sinister, import. For they would represent
the imaginary fulfilment of wishes unrealisable in the waking life, and
would thus be a subconscious protest against the cramping limitations
of poverty. Even so, whether the youthful dreamer were the son of poor
parents or the son of parents comfortably circumstanced, it would be
an unescapable inference that, when awake, he was inclined to think
overmuch of his stomach. Wherefore, dreams like these, if dreamed with
any frequency, would unmistakably suggest the desirability of training to
check a tendency to gluttony and greed.

The frequency with which dreams of a given type are dreamed has, indeed,
much to do with their significance as indicators of character defects. An
occasional dream of gorging one's self--or, say, of being the centre of
attraction at an evening party--would not be valid ground for indicting a
little boy of greed, or a little girl of vanity. But, if such dreams are
habitual, or if, despite a seeming variety in the dreams reported by son
or daughter, there is discernible an undercurrent of desires incompatible
with strength and beauty of character, then the wise parent will not
delay in supplementing dream study by educational measures to correct the
indicated defects.

And, as emphasised by the experiences of many of the youthful nervous
patients whose case-histories have been given in this book, dream-analysis
should particularly be utilised to help children who--being free from
adenoids, eye-strain, or other adverse physical conditions--show a sudden
and unfavourable change in disposition. Some cause of emotional stress is
undoubtedly present, and it may be taken for granted that the child will
betray, through the content of his dreams, what is troubling his mind.
Dream-analysis will thus give insight into secret jealousies, secret
desires, secret fears, secret mental conflicts of many kinds, that are
provocative both of unfavourable changes in character and of outright ill

One such conflict, to which I have already referred when discussing the
handicap of sulkiness, is conflict over sex questions. Frequently, to the
parents' astonishment, it will be found that the actual cause of timidity,
reticence, moodiness, or depression of spirits in a formerly happy child,
is a mental conflict due to the child's vain endeavours to work out fully
satisfactory answers to delicate questions which the parents have not
answered when put to them by the child, or have answered in an evasive
fashion. Children are far more discerning than most parents give them
credit for being. Also, they often are more interested than most parents
suppose in some of the fundamental problems of existence--and especially
the problem of their own nature and origin. The scientific study of
dreams, indeed, has furnished an additional and powerful argument against
the common practice among parents of veiling in mystery or concealing with
well-intentioned falsehoods the facts of birth and of sex.

But let me quote, at this point, the findings of an English medical
psychologist, Doctor Ernest Jones, of London, who has specially studied
the reactions of children to the policy of silence and mystification
regarding sex matters.

"The extent to which such matters occupy the mind of the young child,"
says Doctor Jones, "is always underestimated by adults, and is impossible
to determine by a casual examination, for, on the one hand, the later
memories for these years are always deficient and erroneous, and, on the
other hand, this aspect of the child's mind is rarely accessible to direct
inquiry, on account of the barrier always existing on the subject between
child and adult. As the child grows older, the desires and tendencies in
question meet with such obstacles as an increasing sense of shame, guilt,
wrongness, remorse, and so on, and are fought against by the child, who
now half-consciously strives to get away from them, to forget them, or,
as it is technically termed, to "repress" them. The repressed mental
processes are later thus forgotten, and, along with them, a major part of
the mental experiences associated with them in time. This is the reason
why so little of early childhood life can be recalled by the adult.

"The desires, thoughts, impulses, tendencies, and wishes thus repressed do
not, however, die; they live on, but come to expression in other forms.
Their energy is directed along more useful paths, a process known as
"sublimation," and upon the extent and kind of this sublimation depends a
great deal of the future interests and activities of the individual."[19]

Under certain conditions, instead of smooth, successful sublimation,
there may be mental conflict, with nervous or mental maladies as a
possible result. To this undesirable outcome the parental course sometimes
contributes materially. Again, I quote Doctor Jones:

"It is almost a regular occurrence for children of the age of four or five
to turn from their parents, to withdraw into themselves, and to pursue
private speculations about the topics concerning which they have been
denied information, whether by a direct refusal or by evasion. Phantasies
of bitter resentment against the parent commonly occur at this time, and
often form the basis not only of a later want of confidence, or even a
more or less veiled hostility as regards the parents, but also of various
subsequent disharmonies, neurotic disturbances, and so forth."

Of course, readers of these pages scarcely need to be reminded, conflict
over questions of birth and sex is only one form of emotional stress
that may occasion night terrors, somnambulism, changes in character, and
unmistakable nervous ailments. Whatever the stress, it will be indicated
by the child's dreams, either directly or symbolically. Which, of itself,
is abundant reason for parents to gain knowledge of at least the chief
principles of scientific dream-interpretation.


[Footnote 17: _Archives of Pediatrics_, December, 1914.]

[Footnote 18: _Archives of Pediatrics_, December, 1914.]

[Footnote 19: _The Journal of Educational Psychology_, November, 1910.]




From what has been said in the foregoing pages, it is an irresistible
inference that the greatest of all handicaps a child can have, short
of being born hopelessly deficient, is to be born into a home where he
will be exposed to mind-deadening or emotion-stressing influences--a
home where he will receive neither adequate mental stimulus nor adequate
moral training. Under such circumstances, so profound is the influence
of the early environment, his growth to a normal manhood is impossible,
unless other and more favourable influences from outside the home affect
him with sufficient force to offset the home surroundings. Fortunately,
this happens in many cases, but, as hospital, asylum, and court records
testify in sad abundance, in many cases the adverse home environment
proves indeed decisive.

And, on the opposite, that child is unquestionably getting the best
possible start in life who is born of parents appreciative of his mental
needs, sincerely devoted to him, but not over-devoted, watchful of his
physical health and alert to prevent him from becoming a slave to his
emotions. The purpose of both this book and its predecessor, "Psychology
and Parenthood," has been to help this latter class of parents and,
perchance, to awaken other parents to the need for giving more care and
intelligent attention to their children than they have hitherto been doing.

Certainly, the discoveries of modern psychology and physiology have made
it increasingly evident that the business of child-rearing is, of all
businesses, far and away the most important to the race. And it is a
business that has become more important than it ever was in the past,
because of the greater demands made on human mentality, and the more
numerous sources of stress on human emotionality that are involved in the
increasing complexity of civilised life. Either the clock of progress must
be stopped and the world revert to more primitive modes of living, or
else the men and women of the days to come must be conditioned, through
wiser educational methods that begin in the first years of life, to adapt
themselves more smoothly to the modern environment.

We do not want to stop the clock of progress. But neither could we wish
to see the people of the world degenerate into a race of psychasthenes,
neurasthenes, and otherwise mentally or nervously disorganised men and
women. Happily, means of attaining smoother adaptation, of increasing
both the mental vigour and the nervous resistance of the race are now
available. They are available, thanks chiefly to the labours of the
medical psychologists. And it is my hope that, by stressing the adaptatory
elements in their discoveries and presenting them concretely to the lay
reader, I may have contributed something to promote appreciation of these
elements by parents in general, and appropriate action for the benefit of
the growing generation. First and last, be it clearly understood, it is
on the development of a really efficient parenthood that the future of
society depends.


    Adenoids, and mental backwardness, 23, 26;
      and sulkiness, 70-71.

    Anger, effects of, 87-92.

    Ayres, L. P., 6, 7, 24.

    Bashfulness, 167-187;
      two types of, 171-172;
      causes, 171-176;
      cure, 177-186;
      prevention, 186-187, 202-203.

    Bechterew, W., 165, 180-181, 185.

    Binet, A., 3, 5, 9.

    Binet-Simon tests, 9-10, 13-17.

    Bohannon, E. W., 41-46, 48-49.

    Brill, A. A., 47, 58, 182-184, 234-237, 244-248, 251, 255-257.

    Cannon, W. B., 90, 91, 93.

      Abnormal irritability, 251-253.
      Abnormal timidity, 253-255.
      Bashfulness, 165-169, 177-185.
      Binet's dullard, 3-4.
      Binet-Simon experiments, 13-18.
      Crime from jealousy, 99-101.
      Curable dullness, 11-13, 18-19, 21-24, 25-28, 70-71.
      "Day terrors," 276-278.
      Fear of blood, 255-258.
      Fear of insanity, 284-287.
      Hysteria from jealousy, 103-105.
      Hysterical paralysis, 139-147
      Indecision, 188-191, 195-198.
      Jealous dullards, 113-114.
      Jealousy of mother, 116-118.
      Mental backwardness from physical causes, 21-24, 25-28.
      Nervous depression, 134-139.
      Nervous dullards, 11-13.
      "Night terrors," 273-274, 280-283, 284-287.
      Obsession of sin, 266-267.
      Obsession to murder, 122-123.
      Obsession to torture, 244-249.
      "Only children," 37-40, 50-51, 54-55.
      Pathological lying, 263-265.
      Physiology of emotions, 88-89, 91, 93-94.
      Stammering, 211-212, 214-215, 218-220, 226-237.
      Sulkiness, 67-69, 70-71, 72-73, 77-79.
      Unemployability, 63-65.

    Children's lies, 119-121, 263-265.

    Chorea, 74-75.

    Chubb, P., 250.

    Coriat, I. H., 48, 226_n_, 230-233.

    Cornman, O. P., 5, 7.

    Crime, causes and prevention, 155-157.

    Cruelty, sexual element in, 160.

    Dark, fear of the, 258-260.

    Darwin, C., 107, 172.

    Dattner, B., 226-230.

    Davidson, P. E., 28.

    "Day terrors", 276-279.

    Dearborn, G. V. N., 95.

    Dieffenbach, J. F., 207, 208, 209, 238.

    Divorce, statistics of, 152-153;
      causes, 154-155, 159.

    Dream-analysis, 117, 135, 252, 291-295.

    Dubois, P., 79.

    Ellis, H., 47, 84-85, 160.

    Exercise, and moral control, 200-201.

    Eye-strain, and mental backwardness, 26;
      and sulkiness, 72-73.

    Fairy tales, 243-265;
      harmful effects, 244-249, 251-261;
      good effects, 249-251, 263, 265;
      the war and, 261-262.

    Favorite child, the, 55-59.

    Feeble-mindedness. See Mental backwardness.

    Fiske, C. H., 91.

    Fresh air, and moral control, 200.

    Freud, S., 234.

    Gesell, A. L., 107.

    Hall, G. S., 120, 263-265.

    Hartenberg, P., 168, 184.

    Holmes, A., 18.

    Hypnotism, 229, 232.

    Imitation, 79-80.
      See also Suggestion.

    Indecision, morbid, 187-203;
      causes of, 194-199;
      cure and prevention, 199-203.

    Indigestion, and sulkiness, 66-68.

    Inferiority, feeling of, 81-82, 113-114.

    Insanity, causes and prevention, 157-158.

    Jealousy, 99-128;
      crimes caused by, 99-101;
      parental attitude to, 101-102;
      and disease, 103-106, 116-123;
      in early infancy, 107;
      causes, 107-115;
      prevention, 123-127.

    Jones, E., 296, 298.

    Kyle, D. B., 212.

    Luckey, G. W. A., 30.

    Marriage, 151-161.

    Maxwell, W. H., 7.

    Mental backwardness, extent of, 5-6;
      causes, 6-7, 9-13, 18-25, 28-30;
      treatment, 25-28;
      agencies to correct, 31-32.

    Mental training, need for early, 126-127, 187.

    Moral training, need for early, 29-30, 38-39, 48-49, 52-55, 76-79,
          106-107, 132-134, 149, 157-159, 199, 203, 240, 287.

    Mosso, A., 243.

    Meyerson, A., 144-146.

    "Nagging," 82.

    Nervous disorders, and backwardness, 12-13;
      "only children" and, 44, 48;
      faulty training and, 48-50;
      "favorite children" and, 56-58;
      and sulkiness, 67-69, 72-75, 84;
      and jealousy, 103-107, 115-123;
      and selfishness, 132-150;
      bashfulness and, 175-186;
      indecision and, 188-191, 194-199;
      stammering and, 222-239;
      fairy tales and, 244-249, 251-260;
      "night terrors" and, 276, 284.

    "Night terrors," 271-299;
      description, 272-274;
      traditional explanation, 274;
      modern view, 275-283;
      need for treatment, 284-287;
      prevention, 287-299.
      Also mentioned, 38, 39, 254.

    Only child, the, 37-55;
      nervousness of, 44, 47-48;
      precocity, 44;
      social inadaptability, 44-45;
      effeminacy, 46;
      in adult life, 47-48;
      how spoiled, 48-55.

    O'Shea, M. V., 108.

    Physiology of emotions, 87-95.

    "Poltergeists," 119-120.

    Precocity, 44.

    Psychological clinics in United States, 31-32.

    Putnam, J. J., 48.

    Race conservation, 304-306.

    Religious instruction, 265-267.

    Retardation. See Mental backwardness.

    Rowan, C. L., 213.

    Selfishness, 131-161;
      and nervous disorders, 132-150;
      and marriage, 151-161.

    Sex, mental conflict regarding, 83-85, 296-299;
      education in, 159-161.

    Sidis, B., 190, 192, 284-287.

    Simon, Professor, 9.

    Somnambulism, 289-290.

    Stammering, 207-240;
      Dieffenbach and, 207-208;
      peculiarities of, 210-217;
      psychological treatment, 220-221, 225-238;
      causes, 221-225, 238;
      organic disease and, 226_n;_
      difficulty of cure, 239;
      prevention, 239-240.

    Suggestion, 53, 80, 125, 224, 225.

    Sulkiness, significance of, 65-66;
      causes and treatment, 66-86;
      physiological effects, 87-94.

    Teeth, and mental backwardness, 26;
      and sulkiness, 71-72, 75.

    Underfeeding, and sulkiness, 69.

    Wallin, J. E. W., 11-18.

    Walsh, J. J., 148, 194_n_.

    White, W. A., 260.

    Williams, T. A., 67, 68, 259, 276-280.

    Witmer, L., 20, 21, 23, 25, 28, 31.

    Wood, P. R., 73.

    Worry, effects of, 92-94.

       *       *       *       *       *

    |                     Transcriber notes:                         |
    |                                                                |
    | P. 27. 'vigourous' changed to 'vigorous'.                      |
    | P. 34. and 71. 'dulness' changed to 'dullness'.                |
    | P. 99. 'woful' changed to 'woeful'.                            |
    | P. 200. 'energtic' changed to 'energetic'.                     |
    | P. 233. 'lived though them', changed 'though' to 'through'.    |
    | P. 243. 'Thus the famous', changed to 'Thus said the famous'   |
    |            as it is a quote.                                   |
    | P. 292. 'fulfiling' changed to 'fulfilling'.                   |

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Handicaps of Childhood" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.