The Evolution of Childhood Reconsidered

Henry Ebel, Journal of Psychohistory, 1977, 5, 1, 67-80.

Abstract: Reviews reactions to L. deMause’s basic essay, “The Evolution of Childhood” (1974), by historians and presents criticism of various parts of that paper. Although deMause’s theory that historical change rests on the evolution of parent-child relations is supported, the question is raised as to why particular directions occurred in that evolution. “Psychogenic” progress is the remarkable history of a single variant strain in the history of humanity, that had both a sense of advanced purpose in parent – child relations and a consistent “missionary” sense that enabled this group to impose its values worldwide. Another point is that “good mothers” did exist before the year 1700, contrary to deMause’s thesis, particularly among the ancient Jews and Christians. A possible relationship between functions of the right hemisphere of the brain and deMause’s theory is discussed.