Quotes by Selma H. Underground, the conflict persists in a disguised form and, since the real conflict is not resolved, a neurosis perpetuates itself in a series of attempted compromises—neurotic symptoms. On the surface a neurosis resembles a cold war between two nations where strong demands are made by both sides and temporary compromises are achieved in order to avoid war. But since the basic issues are never dealt with, fresh grievances and demands are constantly in the making and more and more compromises and bad bargains are required to keep the conflict from breaking out into the open. The analogy of a cold war suggests another parallel. If each of the nations in conflict must be constantly prepared for the possibility of open warfare, it must expend larger and larger amounts of its wealth for defense purposes, leaving less and less of the national income for investment in other vital areas of national welfare.

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His mother and his father consulted the writings of experts, subscribed to lecture series and educated themselves in all the rites and practices of child rearing sacred to these times. They knew how children develop fears and neurotic symptoms in early childhood and with the best intentions in the world they set out to rear a child who would be free -- oh, as free as any child can be in this world of ours -- of anxiety and neurotic tendencies.

So Frankie was breast-fed and weaned and toilet-trained at the proper ages and in the proper manner. A baby sister was provided for him at a period in his development best calculated to avoid trauma. It goes without saying that he was prepared for the new baby by approved techniques. His sex education was candid and thorough. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales were edited and revised; mice and their tails were never parted and ogres dined on Cheerios instead of human flesh.

Witches and evil-doers practiced harmless forms of sorcery and were easily reformed by a light sentence or a mild rebuke. But he did. At the age of two when many children are afraid of disappearing down the bath-tub drain, Frankie quite independently and without the influence of wayward companions developed a fear of going down the bath-tub drain. In spite of all the careful preparations for the new baby, he was not enthusiastic about her arrival and occupied himself with the most unfilial plots for her disposal.

Among the more humane proposals he offered was that the baby should be taken back to the dime store. And you know how thorough his sex education had been! At an age when other children waken from bad dreams, Frankie also wakened from bad dreams. He got rid of witches in his stories by having their heads chopped off. What is the point of this modern fable? What does it prove? Are the shibboleths of modern child rearing a delusion of the scientist? Should we abandon our beliefs about feeding, toilet-training, sex education as matters of no consequence in promoting mental health?

We should not be shocked -- for there is no way in which children can be reared without experiencing anxiety. Each stage in human development has its own hazards, its own dangers. We cannot avoid many of these fears. Nor do we need to. We do not, of course, deliberately expose a child to frightening experiences and we do not give substance to the idea of bogies by behaving like bogies ourselves, but when bogies, ogres and dead parakeets present themselves, it is usually best to deal with them in the open and to help the child deal with them on the same basis.

We are apt to confuse two things. Anxiety is not in itself a neurosis. Frankie, of our fable, is not to be regarded as neurotic -- not on the basis of this evidence. Is he afraid of the bath-tub drain? Many two year olds share this fear. It is not necessarily an ominous sign. Has he bad dreams about a giant?

Nearly all pre-school children have anxiety dreams of this type occasionally. Preparation for a new baby is essential and makes things easier, but no amount of preliminary explanation can adequately prepare a child for that real baby and the real experience of sharing parental love.

It is not the bath-tub drain, the dream about the giant or the unpropitious arrival of a sibling that creates a neurosis. The future mental health of the child does not depend upon the presence or absence of ogres in his fantasy life, or on such fine points as the diets of ogres -- perhaps not even on the number and frequency of appearance of ogres.

It is the way in which the child manages his irrational fears that determines their effect upon his personality development. If a child behaves as if he were threatened by real and imaginary dangers on all sides and must be on guard and ready for attack, then his personality may be marked by traits of over-aggressiveness and defiance, and we must regard his solution as a poor one, too.

But normally the child overcomes his irrational fears. And here is the most fascinating question of all: How does he do it? For the child is equipped with the means for overcoming his fears. Even in the second year he possesses a marvellously complex mental system which provides the means for anticipating danger, assessing danger, defending against danger and overcoming danger. Whether this equipment can be successfully employed by the child in overcoming his fears will depend, of course, on the parents who, in a sense, teach him to use his equipment.

This means that if we understand the nature of the developing child and those parts of his personality that work for solution and resolution toward mental health, we are in the best position to assist him in developing his inner resources for dealing with fears. In recent years we have come to look upon mental health as if it were nothing more than the product of a special dietary regime, one that should include the proper proportions of love and security, constructive toys, wholesome companions, candid sex instruction, emotional outlets and controls, all put together in a balanced and healthful menu.

The product of such a mental diet could just as easily grow up to be a well-adjusted bore. Therefore, it seems proper in this discussion of mental health to restore the word "mental" to an honored position, to put the "mental" back into "mental health.

Mental health depends upon an equilibrium between body needs, drives, and the demands of the outer world, but this equilibrium must not be conceived as a static one.

The process of regulating drives, appetites, wishes, purely egocentric desires in accordance with social demands, takes place in the higher centers of the mind. It is that part of the personality that stands in closest relationship to consciousness and to reality which performs this vital function. It is the conscious ego that takes over these regulating and mediating functions, and it does this work for all of the waking hours of a human life.


Selma Fraiberg Quotes

Louis Fraiberg, who she met while studying at Wayne State University. She died four months later on December 19, at the age of Particularly, she wanted to look at the effects blindness had on ego development and organization of experience in infants. The infant, Toni, was considered normal blind, as defined by Fraiberg. Stranger anxiety had been thought to only be an effect of a visual distinction between a known face and an unknown face. This was also questioned when Toni would not smile in response to hearing a voice of anyone except her mother around the age of eight months old. She noted that blind infants use their mouth as a way to perceive the world much longer than non-blind infants.


Selma Fraiberg


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