Lloyde De Mause: The Evolution Of Childhood

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Introduction “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken.” In the opening lines of Lloyde De Mause’s History of Childhood we immediately grasp that the evolution of childhood has been drastic. The history of childhood had been overlooked as it isn’t something apparent to most people. I agree with De Mause that his theory explains the evolution of childhood and I will critically discuss Lloyde DeMauses psychological and therapeutic views on the evolution of childhood and in doing so will refer to the three psychological principles – The Projective Reaction, The Reversal Reaction, and The Empathic Reaction. In doing so, I hope to provide a clear understanding of DeMauses theory and .

The Projective
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The reversal reaction is pretty much what it says in the title. The parent and the child swap roles so then the child takes on the parent role and the parent takes on the child role. The infant is usually viewed as an adult figure that was significant to the parent during their own childhood and is only used to provide the adult with care, love and protection. De Mause mentions that parents used to dress their child up in old fashion adult like clothes similar to the clothes the parents mother used to wear. They are used to satisfy the adults needs only. In order to satisfy these needs, the child can be misused and mistreated to fulfil the emotional, economic and sexual needs of the parent. Examples of these would be child labour and sexual abuse. De Mause gives an example of this sort of behaviour when he references children having their breast or penis kissed by adults. ( page 18 Little Louis). This sort of behaviour that was warned of at the nineteenth century appears acceptable during this period. If such actions were to take place in this generation adults would be locked up. Another example that he gives is overlaying which is the death of infants because of mothers clutching onto their child and smothering them. The mother is unable to separate from the child so then ends up sleeping with the child as if it is a security blanket for her. De Mause later goes on to describe how child abuse frequently occurs when parents don’t feel like the child fulfilled their needs. Parents want to feel loved by the child and often even by something minor like a cry from a baby, the adult feels like that means the child doesn’t love them so therefore hits and abuses them. We see how well De Mause shows the evolution of childhood when he gives these examples to really show the severe change of the history of

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