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von Hug-Hellmuth, H. Putnam, J.J. Stevens, M. (1919). A Study of the Mental Life of the Child. Psychoanal. Rev., 6(1):65-88.

(1919). Psychoanalytic Review, 6(1):65-88


A Study of the Mental Life of the Child

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

(Continued from Vol. V, page 427)

What begins as dissimulation becomes veritable hypocrisy when the child intentionally displays feelings which are the opposite of those he feels; but this rarely happens in the first period of life, thanks to the naíveté characteristic of those years For that very reason, when it does appear it affects one the more painfully. To illustrate:—A little girl, four years old, was playing with a kitten in what seemed to be an affectionate manner; she stroked the animal and called it pet names. As soon as she thought herself unobserved, however, she pinched the little creature's tail. Being called to account for this, she declared,—“I do not like kittens.” Again:—A five-year-old boy who pretended to treat his grandmother with extreme tenderness, stuck out his tongue at her the moment her back was turned. Here his desire for sweetmeats and his anger at the failure of the tenderness lavished upon her to produce the effect hoped for, gave rise both to his deceitful behavior and to the expression of revenge.

Although in later childhood dissimulation is often practiced with a truly painful cunningness, the very young child is apt to unmask his fault immediately after its commission.

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