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Lander, J. (1949). Mental Hygiene. XXXII, 1949: The Age Period of Cultural Fixation. Weston LaBarree. Pp. 209–221.. Psychoanal Q., 18:538.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Mental Hygiene. XXXII, 1949: The Age Period of Cultural Fixation. Weston LaBarree. Pp. 209–221.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:538

Mental Hygiene. XXXII, 1949: The Age Period of Cultural Fixation. Weston LaBarree. Pp. 209–221.

Joseph Lander

The basic character structure of an individual is inculcated in the earliest years of life. What distinguishes one group or tribe from another with respect to aggression, competition, sexual mores, etc., is related to the culturally patterned ways of bringing up children. For this reason the age period in which such cultural fixation occurs is obviously of the greatest importance. 'To the extent that we have stereotyped ways of bringing up children, to that extent will we have stereotypes of preferred character structure in the adults of that society.'

Some tribes or nations stress one set of qualities, other groups stress other traits. It is this rather than 'racial inheritance' which determines the volatile qualities of one group, the submissiveness and mildness of another. One can only agree, therefore, with LaBarre's statement that the single most important thing in human cultural behavior is literally and specifically the way we bring up our children, the kind of human being, temperamentally, that we produce. Each culture produces its misfits. 'If cultures corset human beings in differing ways, and at different points, then we must expect the bulges to show up in different places.' We tend to overlook the cultural dimension in such psychological disorders.

Man's further evolution will be psychological, not physical to any significant extent. The key to this further evolution lies in his own hands. We have the technical knowledge to meet this problem, but not the social implementation: what shape of human personality shall we strive to create? Man is actually free to make alternative choices of mankind's future evolution, to select and emphasize the value systems which may perhaps lead him to a truly human dignity. The child is not merely father of the man; he is the father of all future mankind.


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Article Citation

Lander, J. (1949). Mental Hygiene. XXXII, 1949. Psychoanal. Q., 18:538

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.