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Low, B. (1929). The Behaviour of Young Children of the Same Family: By Blanche C. Weill. (Harvard Studies in Education: Harvard University Press and Oxford University Press, 1928. Pp. 220. Price 13s. 6d.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:114-116.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:114-116

The Behaviour of Young Children of the Same Family: By Blanche C. Weill. (Harvard Studies in Education: Harvard University Press and Oxford University Press, 1928. Pp. 220. Price 13s. 6d.)

Review by:
Barbara Low

The subject of this book is one which must necessarily be of interest to every psycho-analyst, since it is psycho-analytical research that has revealed more fully and more deeply than ever before the profound significance of the family environment.

It is the relationship between the developmental force of charactertraits and of family environment which leads the author to attempt to answer the following question which she posits at the opening of her book (Chapter I., p. 3): 'Why, under what is apparently the same environmental pressure from the same general family situation, does one child develop one kind of behaviour problem and another child a different kind of behaviour, while a third or fourth child may present no evidence of maladjustment whatever? Why does one child develop temper-tantrums under the same circumstances that bring forth neurotic vomiting or night terrors to his brother, while a third child proceeds quietly on his way with nothing more spectacular than a slight nail-biting?' She then proceeds to another question: 'Does the variant lie in the children or in the family situation?' and gives the reply furnished by popular opinion: 'In the children, of course. See how different their natures are! It is almost unbelievable that two children of the same family, always treated alike, should behave so differently'. That popular opinion has much misunderstood the situation is clearly revealed by the author, who sums up the true one when she writes: 'No two people, adult or child, have the same environment. There is no such thing as an identical environment for any two individuals. What is apparently the same environment is modified in each case by the individual's sex, age, and order of birth—three forces over which there is no control. Not even death can obliterate the initial psychological effect of position in the birth series. Modification is brought about further by a host of other forces that are more under personal control, such as birthplace, personal drives, prejudices, the kind of conditioning from birth on and traumata' (Chapter I., pp. 4 and 5).

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