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Jones, K. (1922). Childhood: H. v. Hug-Hellmuth. Vom wahren Wesen der Kinderseele: Vom 'Mittleren Kinde'. (On the true nature of the child's soul: the 'middle' child.) Imago, 1921, Vol. VII, Heft 1, S. 84.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 3:358-359.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Childhood: H. v. Hug-Hellmuth. Vom wahren Wesen der Kinderseele: Vom 'Mittleren Kinde'. (On the true nature of the child's soul: the 'middle' child.) Imago, 1921, Vol. VII, Heft 1, S. 84.
(1922). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 3:358-359
The author, starting with some very clever remarks on the only child and the 'darling' child and their development in later life, goes on to the question of the child who comes in the middle, having older and younger brothers and sisters, and whose problems seem to attract less interest from parents and teachers than those of the eldest child. Psycho-analysts are accustomed to the fact that there is by no means the serene happiness and harmony in the nursery that was supposed to prevail. Much has been written and observed about the conflicts of the eldest child, his feelings at the arrival of an unwelcome newcomer; one knows something about the 'preferred' one who expects all his life to be the 'exception', but what do we know about the 'middle' child, of whom nobody takes special notice. His fate, too, is not altogether rosy. One meets with complaints like those that the older one believes he is grown up and the younger thinks she is the same as the 'middle' one. So the one in the middle has no proper companion. He or she feels inferior to the elder one and superior to the younger, though—to his grief—his superiority is not granted him by the younger. The inconsistency of parents in treating a child as grown-up or as 'tiny', according to their own convenience in the special case, tends to make matters more difficult. The children in question have to be 'sensible' and let the little one have his will and they have to give in to the elder one because they are younger. With girls the question of dress is of great importance and as this is mostly decided by practical and not by sentimental reasons, it can leave much bitterness in the soul of the 'middle' one who only comes in for the cast-off clothes of the elder sister, while the little one gets new clothes. The outsider, mostly the eldest, sees the lot of the younger one from quite a different angle. The very fact that he is neither grown-up nor little seems to him the main advantage because he can make use of that situation, play the grown-up when he likes and the baby at other times. Another child, in the middle of many, tries hard to attract attention so as not to get lost among the others. It prefers scolding to indifference.
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The author comes to the depressing conclusion that a large family does not ensure a happy childhood and that the often praised advantages of the large family are mostly illusions. A girl in between two brothers, or a boy in between two sisters have, according to her observations, chosen the best lot, while three children of the same sex have a life full of conflicts.