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Lampl-De Groot, J. (1939). Considerations of Methodology in Relation to the Psychology of Small Children. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:408-417.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:408-417

Considerations of Methodology in Relation to the Psychology of Small Children

Jeanne Lampl-De Groot

A little while ago an acquaintance of mine, the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, said to me: 'I must tell you something quite extraordinary about my little son. For the last few days he has refused to put on his knickers and has kept on saying that he wants to wear a dress—a pretty dress, like Lini and Evi.' (Lini and Evi are two playmates of his.) 'Yesterday I went into his room and found him, with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes, playing with his indiarubber doll, which he had not taken any notice of for some time. He was tucking it into his blouse so that his body looked quite fat, and then squeezing and pushing it out again, to the accompaniment of straining movements and noises, as though he was trying to defæcate.' His mother, who had a good deal of insight, added: 'I know why he was doing it. A friend of mine is expecting a baby quite soon, and I have often said to her that I should like to have another baby, too. On those occasions Walter will look at me with great attention, and, now I come to think of it, with a certain amount of concern as well.' I asked my acquaintance what the child's attitude to his environment was. She told me that he was very much attached to her and nearly always preferred being with her to being with anyone else; but that lately he had now and then suddenly left her side and run to other people. She said: 'When he is annoyed with me or feels that I have neglected him, he will go to his father or to our maid and behave in a very affectionate way to them.' She went on to express anxiety as to whether such behaviour was not 'abnormal'. She had always understood that little boys loved their mother and were their father's rivals. But Walter was behaving not like a little man at all, but like a girl. Was it possible that he would turn into a weak and effeminate person? All I could do was to tell her to be patient and to wait and see how the child's development progressed.

About three-quarters of a year later the mother told me that Walter had changed to a remarkable degree. His games of pregnancy had completely stopped. He was ardently and passionately devoted to her and always wanting to escort her about and protect her.

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