Introduction by Dr. C.G. Jung
I have read the manuscript of Mrs. Evans book, The Problem of the Nervous Child, with great pleasure and interest.
Mrs. Evans’ knowledge of her subject matter is based on the solid foundation of practical experience, an experience gained in the difficult and toilsome treatment and education of nervous children.
Whoever has had to deal with nervous children knows what an amount of patience, as well as skill, is needed to guide a child out of a wrong pathological attitude into a normal life.
This book, as the reader can see on almost every page, is the fruit of an extended work in the field of neuroses and abnormal characters.
Despite the fact that there are numbers of books on education, there are very few that occupy themselves with a child’s most intimate problems in such a careful and painstaking way.
It is self-evident that this contribution will be of great value to anyone interested in educational questions.
But the physician should be particularly indebted to the author, as her book will be a valuable co-operation in the fight against the widespread evil of neuroses in adults.
More and more the neurologist of today realizes the fact that the origin of the nervousness of his patients is very rarely of recent date, but that it traces back to the early impressions and developments in childhood.
There lies the source of many later nervous diseases.
Most of the neuroses originate from a wrong psychological attitude which hinders the adjustment to the emdronment or to the individual’s own requirements.
This wrong psychological position which is at the bottom of almost every neurosis has, as a rule, been built up during the course of years and very often began in early childhood as a consequence of incompatible familiar influences.
Knowing this, Mrs. Evans lays much stress on the parent’s mental attitude and its importance for the child’s psychology.
One easily overlooks the enormous power of imitation in children.
Parents too easily content themselves with the belief that a thing hidden from the child cannot influence it.
They forget that the infantile imitation is less concerned with the action than with the parent’s state of mind from which the action emanates.
I have frequently observed children who were particularly influenced by certain unconscious tendencies of the parents and, in such cases, I have often advised the treatment of the mother rather than of the child.
Through the enlightenment of the parents, their wrong influences can at least be avoided, and thus much can be done for the prevention of later neuroses in the children.
The author particularly insists upon the importance of watching the manifestations of the sexual instinct in childhood.
Any one concerned with the education of abnormal children will confirm the existence and the frequency of sexual symptoms in these children.
Despite the fact that sexual activity does not belong to the infantile age, it frequently manifests itself in a symptomatic way, viz. as a symptom of abnormal development.
An abnormal development does not provide sufficient opportunity for the normal display of the child’s energies.
Thus, the normal outlet being blocked, the energy accumulates itself and forcibly seeks an abnormal outlet in premature and perverted sexual interests and activities.
Infantile sexuality is the most frequent symptom of a morbid psychological attitude.
According to my view, it is wrong to consider sexual phenomena in early childhood as the expression of an organic disposition; most of the cases are due to an environment not fitting the child’s psychological nature.
The attitude of the child toward life is certainly determined by the inherited disposition, but only to a certain extent; on the other side it is the result of the immediate parental influences and of the educational measures.
While the inherited disposition cannot be changed, these latter influences can be improved by suitable methods, and thus the original unfavourable disposition can be overcome.
Mrs. Evans book shows the way, and how to treat even the most intricate cases.
Kushnacht, near Zurich, October, 1919. ~Carl Jung, Foreword to “The Problem of the Nervous Child” by Elida Evans, Page v-viii