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von Hug-Hellmuth, H. Putnam, J.J. Stevens, M. (1918). A Study of the Mental Life of the Child. Psychoanal. Rev., 5(3):291-322.

(1918). Psychoanalytic Review, 5(3):291-322


A Study of the Mental Life of the Child

H. von Hug-Hellmuth, James J. Putnam, M.D. and Mabel Stevens, B.S.

The making of plans with regard to a future vocation, by younger or older children, likewise falls within the province of the imagination; although just here the suggestive influence of the adult is not to be underestimated. The question which strangers constantly direct to boys, in particular: “What are you going to be?” is now replied to, in but few cases, with a logically framed “Nothing”— as my nephew used to answer at the age of from three to five years. Frequently, from sexual reasons, which Freud discusses in his “Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie,” the boy's wish is to become a “coachman” or a “conductor”; or, again, a “General,” or “the Kaiser”—which psycho-analytic experience teaches us to interpret as “father.” That this interpretation does, in truth, express the child's mental attitude with accuracy is shown by the oft-cited comment as to the glorious amount of freedom the children would have then, and how the imaginary Kaiser would do everything which father prohibits at home.

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