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Bernfeld, S. (1935). Psychoanalytic Psychology of the Young Child. Psychoanal Q., 4:3-14.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:3-14

Psychoanalytic Psychology of the Young Child

Siegfried Bernfeld

A brief review of fundamental psychoanalytic concepts regarding the development of the young child must begin with the distinguishing features of Freudian psychology as a whole. All the more so because both correct and erroneous statements which have been made about "psychoanalysis" have indiscriminately come into general use. Today it is no exaggeration to say that there is no pedagogical or psychological thinking which has not been influenced by the work of Freud, and accordingly a considerable number of the Freudian views which lend themselves to direct application have already been introduced and familiarized under other names in other schools of thought. Freudian psychoanalysis could readily be summarized in the single sentence: psychoanalysis is a scientific conception of the psychic life. But if we are to be satisfied with this axiom, a whole series of explanations are necessary.

Psychoanalysis knows no ethical value—that is, psychoanalysis takes cognizance of the phenomena under its scientific investigation without passing judgment on them. This does not mean that the individual psychoanalyst is lacking in standards or takes a cynical view of the world and of things in general; nor does he find sanction for everything in life. By no means. But in the psychoanalytic scientific method of observation—as indeed in all science and especially in all natural science—things are regarded impartially, as if they were neither good nor bad, as if they were simply natural processes, and not occurrences within a social structure to be passed upon as sanctioned or forbidden.

This detached point of view of psychoanalysis is alone of great significance for pedagogy.

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