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DeRosis, H.A. (1961). Normal Children and their Mothers. Irvin D. Harris, M.D. Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, 1959.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):297-299.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):297-299

Normal Children and their Mothers. Irvin D. Harris, M.D. Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, 1959.

Review by:
Helen A. DeRosis, M.D.

In this book Dr. Harris describes the procedures and findings of a research team composed of a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a social worker. There are many questions raised. What are normality and abnormality? What is the specific underlying principle of neurosis? The purpose of the book is to understand what goes on in so-called personality growth, and to add to already existing information about emotional growth, especially during childhood years. The author seems further interested in the possibilities of this study as it may contribute to aspects of therapy and of preventive psychiatry.

The author searches the writings of other workers in order to establish some basis for determining the criteria for normal behavior. He arrives at his own formulation based on the concept of behavior adjustment. He feels that this is the most practical approach, since the material was obtained by the observations of actual behavior. His use of this concept involved a broad approach, as he indicates in his statement: “…in the sense we used it, adjustment was a creative, dynamic phenomenon rather than a means for merely getting along with the environment at the expense of personal growth. For we had asked our judges to tell us not only how well the child was adapting to the environment, but also how happy, zestful and vigorous he was. As we shall see, the child's adjustment can be lively and dynamic, rather than monotonous and static.”


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