Tuesday, 5 June 2007

'Myths of Childhood' by Joel Paris

From a review by Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair:
The myth of childhood is a part of western culture, pop-psychology and academic psychology.
It is the idea that the experiences a child has, especially the earliest experiences, are more important than later experiences - and through the idea of psychological determinism, these experiences create the personality of the adult.
Further, if these experiences are traumatic or in some specific way not good, they are the cause of any psychological disorder or distress. Finally, the experiences that may be called “parenting” are the most important of these experiences.
Paris (2000, pp. xi-xii) lists the following three main factors of the myth:
Myth 1:
Personality is formed by early childhood experience.
Myth 2:
Mental disorders are caused by early childhood experiences.
Myth 3:
Effective psychotherapy depends on the reconstruction of childhood experiences.
Don’t believe the hype! These are myths. Paris calls them cultural shibboleths - they are taken for granted, not questioned. But they ought to be! They are not supported by science.
Scientific inquiry has been performed. The results are negative. Yet they are believed. And by those who believe them, those who practice them, are revered and provided with authority and power.
This is psychiatry and clinical psychology’s “dark secret”...

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