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Shields, R. (1964). The Widening World of Childhood: By Lois Barclay Murphy and Associates. (New York: Basic Books, 1962. Pp. 400. $10.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:588-588.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:588-588

The Widening World of Childhood: By Lois Barclay Murphy and Associates. (New York: Basic Books, 1962. Pp. 400. $10.00.)

Review by:
Robert Shields

Psycho-analysts have good reason to be specially grateful to those who have laid stress on direct observational studies—of children particularly—and have resisted the temptation to make such studies appear like special pleading for psycho-analytical theories. In the academic world at the moment this is considered to be the only legitimate and acceptable method of enquiry, since it would seem to bear no relation to subjective criteria or doubtful 'insights'. The Widening World of Childhood, by Lois Barclay Murphy and her associates, is a masterly example of painstaking observation allied to strict psycho-analytical self-discipline.

This book successfully avoids the two major pitfalls: arid statistics on the one hand and abstract speculation on the other. Taking 32 normal children, varying in age from 2 to 5 years, the team tested and observed the youngsters over a period of 12 years, concentrating upon the ways in which they confronted the ordinary problems that arise in day-to-day experience. The result is a highly original and immensely rich contribution to the literature of child development.


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