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Klein, M. (1923). The Development of a Child. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 4:419-474.

(1923). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 4:419-474

The Development of a Child

Melanie Klein


The influence of sexual enlightenment and relaxation of authority on the intellectual development of children


The idea of enlightening children in sexual matters is steadily gaining ground. The instruction introduced in many places by the schools aims at protecting children during the age of puberty from the increasing dangers of ignorance, and it is from this point of view that the idea has won most sympathy and support. The knowledge obtained by psycho-analysis however indicates the necessity, if not of 'enlightening', at least of bringing up children from the tenderest years in such a fashion as will render any special enlightenment unnecessary, since it points to the completest, most natural enlightenment compatible with the rate of development of the child. The irrefutable conclusions to be drawn from psycho-analytic experience demand that children shall, whenever possible, be protected from any over-strong repression, and thus from illness or a disadvantageous development of character. Alongside the certainly wise intention of countering actual and visible dangers with information, therefore, analysis aims at avoiding dangers that are equally actual, even if not visible (because not recognized as such) but which are much commoner, deeper, and therefore call much more urgently for observation.

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