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Mead, M. (1957). Changing Patterns of Parent-Child Relations in an Urban Culture. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 38:369-378.

(1957). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 38:369-378

Changing Patterns of Parent-Child Relations in an Urban Culture

Margaret Mead

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the honour of being asked to give the Ernest Jones Lecture for 1957, as a recognition of the long and fruitful cooperation between cultural anthropology and psycho-analysis. Throughout the last thirty years the two approaches to the study of human behaviour have enriched each other in a variety of ways, as psycho-analysis has provided theoretical bases for the interpretation of human behaviour and cultural studies have made it possible to prune psycho-analytic theory of the inevitable provincialisms of theory based on observations made exclusively within the Euro-American tradition (1). Because both fields are young and growing, they have also been able to take advantage of other developments in the behavioural sciences, such as the approaches of Gestalt psychology (28), of learning theory (12), (3), of studies in normal child development (47), as, for instance, those of Piaget in Geneva (51), and of Gesell and Ilg in the United States (31), (36). The development of child analysis as a special field also meant a stepping up of the degree of relevance which each discipline found in the other, and the development of modern methods of anthropological field work, particularly in the field called 'culture and personality'—itself a product of earlier cooperation—has meant that more detailed observations in both fields were available for comparative study. The older reliance by anthropologists upon psycho-analytic theory based upon reconstructions from the cases of adult patients and by psycho-analysts upon anthropological reconstructions of the nature of early man and of contemporary primitive man, which stimulated Freud and his contemporaries, has given place to precise observations of the actual behaviour of children, during childhood, and of actual primitive peoples, carefully observed in their own habitats.

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