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Klein, M. (1924). The Rôle of the School in the Libidinal Development of the Child. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:312-331.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:312-331

The Rôle of the School in the Libidinal Development of the Child

Melanie Klein

It is a well-known fact in psycho-analysis that in the fear of examinations, as in examination-dreams, the anxiety is displaced from something sexual on to something intellectual. Sadger showed in his article, 'ber Prüfungsangst and Prüfungsträume', that the fear of examinations, in dreams as in reality, is the fear of castration.

The connection between examination-fears and inhibitions at school is illuminating. I came to recognize as such also, however, the different forms and degrees of distaste for learning, even marked reluctance as well as, for instance, a mere 'laziness', which could not have been recognized either by the child or by those round him as an aversion from school.

In the life of a child school means that a new reality is encountered, which is often apprehended as very stern. The way in which he adapts himself to these demands is usually typical of his attitude towards the tasks of life in general.

The extremely important rôle played by the school is in general based upon the fact that school and learning are from the first libidinally determined for everyone, since by its demands school compels a child to sublimate his libidinal instinctual energies. The sublimation of genital activity, above all, has a decisive share in the learning of various subjects, which will be correspondingly inhibited, therefore, by the castration-fear.

On starting school the child passes out of the environment that constituted the basis of his fixations and complex-formations, finds himself faced with new objects and activities, and must now test on them the mobility of his libido. It is, however, above all, the necessity for abandoning a more or less passive feminine attitude, which had hitherto been open to him, in order now to put forth his activity that confronts the child with a task new and frequently insuperable for him.

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