What's wrong with that child?

Women turn healthy children against their healthy fathers, because you treat healthy childlike love as a symptom of disease, because, ugly little woman, not content with looking like a tub, you think and teach like a tub; because instead of withdrawing modestly into a quiet corner of life, you do your best to imprint all life with your ugliness, your tublike ungainliness, your hypocrisy, and with the bitter hatred that you hide behind your phony smile.

--Wilhelm Reich

What's wrong with that child?

As man armored his child, it grew up frustrated, alternately submissive or rebellious, angry, fearful of its father but longing for his love, and slowly but surely there developed the great authoritatian patriarchal tradition on which the western world is build.

--Orson Bean

What's wrong with that child?

It is because I believe that a difficult child is nearly always made difficult by wrong treatment at home as well as at school that I dare to address parents as well as teachers.

The difficult child is the child who is unhappy. He is at war with himself; and in consequence, he is at war with the world. The difficult adult is in the same boat. No happy man ever disturbed a meeting, or preached a war, or lynched a Negro. No happy woman ever nagged her husband or her children. No happy man ever committed a murder or a theft. No happy employer ever frightened his employees. All crimes, all hatred, all wars can be reduced to unhappiness. This book is an attempt to show how unhappiness arise, how it ruins human lives, and how children can be reared so that much of this unhappiness will never arise. More than that, this book is the story of a place - Summerhill School - where children's unhappiness is cured and, more important, where children are reared in happiness.

You cannot make children learn music or anything else without to some degree converting them into will-less adults. You fashion them into accepters of the status quo - a good thing for a society that needs obedient sitters at dreary desks, standers in shops, mechanical catchers of the 8:30 suburban train - a society, in short, that is carried on the shabby shoulders of the scared little man - the scared-to-death conformist.

Under adult discipline, the child can become a hater. Since the child cannot express his hatred of adults with impunity, he takes it out on smaller or weaker boys.

Criminality appears in a child as a perverted form of love.

If I can't get love, I can get hate. Every case of criminality in a child can be traced to lack of love.

We cannot get away from the fact that a child is primarily an egoist. No one else matters. When the ego is satisfied, we have what we call goodness; when the ego is starved, we have what we call criminality. The criminal revenges himself on society because society has failed to appreciate his ego by showing love for him. The young gangsters of the world are seeking happiness, and I make the guess that their unhappiness in home and school is the root cause of their being antisocial. The happiness they should have had in childhood gave place to the spurious happiness of damaging and stealing and beating people up.

A boy is born is a mean street. His home has no culture, no books, no serious conversation. His parents are ignorant and slap him and yell at him; he attends a school where strict discipline and dull subjects cramp his style. His playground is the street corner. His ideas about sex are pornographic and dirty. On television he sees people with money and cars and all sorts of luxuries. At adolescence he gets into gang whose aim is to get rich quick at all costs. How can we cure a boy with that background?

For years Ansi had found pleasure in leading her school gang against authority. In stirring up rebellion, she was doing something she hated. She hated chaos. Underneath, she was a law-abiding citizen. But Ansi had a great desire for power. She was happy only when she was directing others. In rebelling against her teacher, she was trying to make herself more important than the teacher. She hated laws because she hated the power that made laws. I find such power cases much more difficult to cure than sex cases. One can with comparative ease track down the incidents and teachings that give a child a bad conscience about sex, but to track down the thousands of incidents and teachings that have made a child a sadistic power person is difficult indeed.

The best way to make a child a liar for life is to insist that he speak the truth and nothing but the truth.

To ask a little child to be unselfish is wrong. Every child is an egoist. The world belongs to him. His power of wishing is strong; he has only to wish and he is king of the earth. When he is given an apple his one wish is to eat that apple. And the chief result of mother's encouraging him to share his very own apple with his little brother is to make him hate the little brother. Altruism comes later, comes naturally if the child is not taught to be unselfish; probably never comes at all when the child is taught to be unselfish. The young altruist is merely the child who likes to please others while he is satisfying his own selfishness. By suppressing the child's selfishness the selfishness becomes fixed. An unfulfilled wish lives on in the unconscious. The child who is taught to be unselfish will remain stuck being selfish through life. Moral instruction thus defeats its own purpose.

To be a free soul, happy in work, happy in friendship, and happy in live, or to be a miserable bundle of conflicts, hating one's self and hating humanity - one or the other is the legacy that parents and teachers give to every child.

"Bend the tree when it is a twig and it will be bend when it is fully grown." He also said, "What is wrong with psychoanalysis is that is deals with words, while all the damage is done to a child before it can speak."

--A. S. Neill

What's wrong with that child?

The child starts with giving up the expression of his feelings and eventually giving up the very feeling itself. Together with that, he is taught to suppress the awareness of hostility and insincerity in others; sometimes this is not entirely easy, since children have a capacity for noticing such negative qualities in others without being so easily deceived by words as adults usually are. They still dislike somebody "for no good reason" - except the very good one that they feel the hostility, or insincerity, radiating from that person. This reaction is soon discouraged; it does not take long for the child to reach the "maturity" of the average adult and to lose the sense of discrimination between a decent person and a scoundrel, as long as the latter has not committed some flagrant act. On the other hand, early in his education, the child is taught to have feelings that are not at all "his"; particularly is he taught to like people, to be uncritically friendly to them, and to smile.

As a child, every human being passes through a state of powerlessness, and truth is one of the strongest weapons of those who have no power.

--Erich Fromm