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Fordham, M. (1977). Maturation of A Child Within The Family. J. Anal. Psychol., 22(2):91-105.

(1977). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 22(2):91-105

Maturation of A Child Within The Family

Michael Fordham


Jung Is Known Mainly for his study of the psychology of maturity, of spiritual growth and individuation in later life. Because of this his contributions to the study of child maturation are easily overlooked, and childhood is wrongly set aside as relatively unimportant. This profound error still needs to be redressed, and I have contributed to doing so in an earlier essay (FORD-HAM 2). In the hope of contributing to its further undoing, I shall show that Jung was not indifferent to the anxieties and conflicts of children, and that what he said about them was historically interesting.

I say historically because there are two stages in the analytic study of childhood. In the first, which is rapidly drawing to a close, the conflicts of childhood were inferred from the study of often severely pathological adults: richly speculative and theoretical conclusions were drawn from their anxieties and crisis situations. The second was ushered in by the findings of child analysts and followed by analytically informed observational research projects (ESCALONA 1, MAHLER 14). Together these are building up a reliable picture of childhood as it really is. Jung belonged to the first period and within it he gave us intuitions and formulations that were often well ahead of his time; that his pronouncements were uneven is to be expected. Some of them are scientifically valuable, especially when they could be proved right or wrong, others are poetic, others are evocative and seem fantastic in the light of what is known today.

References to childhood occur throughout Jung's writings, There is the lengthy theoretical study of child development in ‘The theory of psychoanalysis(JUNG 5). Before this he had recorded the delightful study of Anna (JUNG 3), and sometimes he illustrated his thesis with short accounts in child psychotherapy of children in the latency period (cf. JUNG 5).

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