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Carl Jung’s Foreword to Elida Evans: “The Problem of the Nervous Child.”

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The Symbolic Life: Miscellaneous Writings (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 18)

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 a 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 extensive work in the field of neuroses and abnormal characters.

Despite the fact that there are numerous books on education, there are very few that concern 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.

The physician should be particularly indebted to the author, as her book will be a valuable ally in the fight against the widespread evil of neuroses in adults.

More and more the neurologist of today realizes that the origin of the nervousness of his patients is very rarely of recent date, but goes 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 adjustment to the environment 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 the years and very often began in early childhood as a consequence of incompatible familial 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 infantile imitation is less concerned with 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.

Anyone 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 period, it frequently manifests itself in a symptomatic way, 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 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.

In 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 unsuited to the child’s psychological nature.

The attitude of the child towards 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 education.

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. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 805-806