Although I have spent a good part of my adult life searching in libraries for evidence of what it might have felt like to have been a child in past times, I actually never planned on being an historian of childhood. How I came to research childhood history, and the response by others since then to my findings, tells, I think, something about the emotional resistances encountered in beginning a new discipline.
While working on my doctorate in political theory at Columbia University in the late 1950s as well as taking courses at a psychoanalytic institute. I found that neither institution welcomed the combining of the two fields, so I decided to leave them both in favor of a life of independent research. At the same time, I discovered that the main journal of applied psychoanalysis, the American Imago, mainly published articles on works of literature. When I joined the staff of the journal and attempted to broaden their coverage, my efforts unfortunately proved fruitless.(1)
Facing the need for both a source of income and a place to publish, I borrowed some money and started my own publishing company, planning to build it up to a size which could both support my scholarly work and also publish it if I could find no other journal or book publisher-a prudent decision, it turned out, since I have yet to find a journal or book publisher which would publish my work.
Ten years later, when my publishing company was viable enough to run without my full attention, I was able to return to my scholarly research. Having fallen behind in reading during the previous decade, I bought a set of Books in Print, went through it and checked off about two thousand books I wanted to read and then purchased them all and spent the next year reading them. Since little had been published in psychohistory at the time, I read mostly psychoanalytic anthropology, devouring Roheim, La Barre, Devereux and others in an effort to understand how "culture and personality" were related and how psychoanalysis might be more fruitfully applied to a more scientific understanding of politics, religion and history.
However much I admired the scholars I read, my initial research only lead me to a number of dead ends. To begin with, I soon realized that all the attempts to relate "culture and personality" had foundered on the basic problem that statements relating the two concepts were in fact tautological; culture and personality couldn't cause each other because they were both abstractions from the same individual psyches.(2) But if the two concepts were actually equivalent, what, then, caused historical changes in culture/personality?(3) Freud's historical model, repeated by the psychoanalysts who followed him, was that history proceeded through more successful repression: "civilization is built up upon a renunciation of instinct," he said, adopting a Hobbesian stance; "progress can be described as a repression that progresses over the centuries."(4) Geza Roheim stated the pessimistic implications of the Freudian view of history most succinctly:
I regard the evolution of mankind as proceeding from bad to worse . . . the factor which since the dawn of humanity has been at work at developing civilization at the expense of happiness is the death impulse or destructive impulse as active through the superego.(5)
Following this Freudian model, I looked at the ethnologists for evidence that the less civilized people were, the happier they were, the less repressed, the less powerful their superegos. What I found was precisely the reverse: most of the people studied by anthropologists, it seemed to me, were as fearful and magical thinking as contemporary borderline per-sonalities, were so repressed that their feelings had to be continuously projected into objects around them, had extremely punitive superegos with constant guilt about their wishes and were quite unloving toward their children and spouses. Where was the happy, healthy aborigine Roheim said he had found?
I discovered I simply could make no sense at all of what Roheim and others were saying. This was particularly true about childhood. Roheim wrote, for instance, that the Australian aborigines he observed were excellent parents, even though they ate every other child, out of what they called "baby hunger," and forced their other children to eat parts of their siblings. This "doesn't seem to have affected the personality development'' of the surviving children, Roheim said, and in fact, he concluded, these were really "good mothers. [Who] eat their own children.''(6)
Doubtful that eating your sibling could fail to be traumatic, I began to question the rest of Roheim's ''happy aboriginal childhood" thesis. I turned to the publications of other ethnographers, and found little help, other than a confirmation of the cannibalism of Australian infants. It was only when I began publishing a new scholarly journal, The Journal of Psychological Anthropology, and was able to publish psychoan-thropologist Arthur Hippler's first-hand observations of an Australian aborigine tribe, that I learned what Roheim had left out:
Infant care in the past was essentially rigorous and presently is inconsistent, occasionally to the point of near absolute neglect. We have striven to find a non-ethnocentric way of describing this phenomenon but, according even to local values, the earliest mothering patterns are seen as neglectful. There seems no other way to describe them.
Children of early age are carried, head supported, astraddle their mother's (or other carrier's) hip; by six weeks, the infant receives the first of the recurrent attacks on him by sibl-ings . . . Attacks by his siblings upon the Yolngu infant seem nearly unceasing. The mother rarely intervenes . . Children's attacks become so common that one often hears adults saying. "Don't kill the baby.' But no one interferes, and the child is increasingly made subject to violence and stress.
The same events which we describe as neglectful have been described by others (Roheim 1932...) as "tolerant," "non-intrusive" or "permissive." . . In our personal observation, and consistent with Hamilton, children are abused by mother and others when they cry. They are shouted at, jerked roughly, slapped or shaken. The care of children under 6 months of age can be described as hostile, aggressive and careless; it is often routinely brutal . . . infanticide was often practiced . . . the baby is offered the breast often when he does not wish it and is nearly choked with milk . . The mother is often substantially verbally abusive to the child as he gets older, using epithets such as "you shit," ''vagina to you" . . . care is expressed through shouts, or not at all, when it is not accompanied by slaps and threats. I never observed a single adult Yolngu caretaker of any age or sex walking a toddler around, showing him the world, explaining things to him and empathizing with his needs. While categorical statements are most risky, I am most certain of this the world is described to the child as dangerous and hostile, full of demons, though in reality the real dangers are from his caretakers . . the child is sexually stimulated by the mother at this age as well. Penis and vagina are caressed to pacify the child, and clearly the action arouses the mother. Many mothers develop blissful smiles or become quite agitated (with, we assume, sexual stimulation) and their nipples apparently harden during these events. Children . . . are encouraged to play with their mothers' breasts, and boys are obviously stimulated sexually . . . Threats of abandon-ment, ghouls and monsters are used to control the child Children become passive and dependent and, until nearly age two, are terrified to leave the presence of their mothers, Mothers encourage this anxiety by telling the child that all the world is dangerous away from them . . . intersexual play oc-curs . . . pelvic thrusting and lying on one another as well as genital manipulation are common . . . (7)
When I later cited in the journal Hippler's evidence and said that perhaps one shouldn't trust Roheim's conclusions about his "good," infanticidal, abusive, cannibalistic mothers, noted psychoanthropologist Robert Paul criticized my conclusions because, he said, deMause ''only believed those anthropologists who confirm what he wants to hear," and that one simply can't challenge an ethnologist's conclusions, especially if they are written by someone as distinguished as Roheim. Not mentioning my citations of Hippler's evidence at all, Paul wrote:
But remember that the anthropologist in question here is Roheim himself, who can hardly be accused of being psychoanalytically unsophisticated, or of denying or resisting. Indeed deMause readily accepts his reportage about the facts. Why does he question his conclusion? Roheim was nobody's fool. If deMause, sitting in New York, knows better than Roheim what is "aboriginal reality," then once again we are back in never-never land and not in the realm or empirical science.
I am indeed much more sympathetic to Roheim's accounts, precisely because he does not rush to the conclusion that deMause does. Australian Aboriginal culture survived very well, thank you, very much for tens of thousands of years before it was devastated by Western interference. If that isn't adaptive, what is?
By the time I had accumulated an enormous amount of ethnological material, I reluctantly had to conclude that, although I had learned much from the psychoanthropologists, there was no use looking to anthropology to find out what I wanted to know: the basic material I needed to answer my questions was simply missing from their field reports. With a growing family and my publishing commitments, I couldn't go out and restudy these tribes myself, and when I invited others to submit psychoanthropological articles on childrearing to our journal, no one responded other than Arthur Hippler.(9) I had no choice but to conclude that it was impossible to find out what was really going on in childhood in non-literate tribes through the idealizing eyes of the ethnologists. As I suggested in my reply to Robert Paul.
If all those anthropologists who report such marvelously warm and loving childrearing, which then produces such psychotic and magical-thinking adults, are correct, we had better toss out all our psychoanalytic theory and begin again as behaviorists. In fact, I view this notion of good childhood producing magical adults as the "dirty little secret" of our field, one against which the voluminous cross-cultural work of Whiting, Bacon, Barry, Child, Rohner, at at., is constructed as an elaborate defense. Worse: I consider all those "ratings" on childrearing to be essentially ratings of the anthropologist's counter-transference. If the anthropologist is sensitive to both pre-verbal and verbal communication be-tween parents and children-if you have a DuBois or a Parin or a Hippler or a Boyer or a Freeman-the description of childhood emotional experiences sounds like a loveless nightmare, and the Whiting group, using HRAF files, gives it a low rating; if the anthropologists' countertransference problems are too great, little but loving care is recorded, and it gets a high rating. Mothers who kill every other baby and rarely either look at or smile at or talk to the surviving babies get top ratings in "oral satisfaction" solely because the mother nurses the baby every two minutes-regardless of what the baby really wants.(10)
I had to conclude that if I was going to construct a truly psychogenic theory of social change. I would have to turn to the history of the West. In his "Civilization and Its Discontents," Freud concluded that civilization in the West was accomplished only by ''a sacrifice of instincts," ac-complished by giving up "the liberty of the individual" upon which the "development of civilization imposes restrictions"-accomplished main-ly by "proscribing manifestations of the sexual life of children" so that the "sexual life of civilized man is . . severely impaired ..."'' Western man, he says, has been left with "a permanent internal unhappiness, A sense of guilt and the best one can say for civilization is that "civilized man has exchanged a portion of his possibilities of happiness for a portion of security."(12)
If Freud's theory was accurate, then, one should only have to look back into the historical record to find in earlier times sexually unrepressed, happier children, living more by the pleasure principle, who grew up to become less guilty-even though less "civilized"-adults. If, however, childhood was either worst in the past or varied unpredictably century by century, I would have to construct a new, more progressive evolutionary theory I therefore began to examine existing historians' ac-counts of childhood.
The best-known book on the history of childhood at the time-still cited as ''Holy Writ" by most historians(13) - was Philippe Aries' Centuries of Childhood.(14) Aries' agreed with Freud in concluding that childhood was happier and freer in the past. Although the picture of ear-ly modern childhood Aries' portrayed in his book was one in which the child was regularly beaten and used sexually by his parents and other caretakers, he concluded that this actually had no ill effects for the child, since "the practice of playing with children's privy parts formed part of a widespread tradition . . the child under the age of puberty was believed to be unaware of or indifferent to sex. Thus gestures and allusions had no meaning for him; they became purely gratuitous and last their sexual significance."(15) In other words, since everyone whipped and molested children, whipping and molesting had no effects on any child. While "it is easy to imagine what a modern psycho-analyst would say" about parents and children masturbating each other, he said, ''the psychoanalyst would be wrong. The attitude to sex, and doubtless sex itself, varies according to environment, and consequently according to period and mentality - . We should avoid anachronisms . . . All that was involved was a game whose scabrous nature we should beware of exaggerating . . ."(16)
To anyone not wholly committed to historical relativism, this argu-ment might suggest some counter-transference problems which the historians shared with the anthropologists. Moreover, when I then read the diary of Jean Heroard,(17) the pediatrician to Louis XIII, upon which Aries based most of his conclusions, I not only found how much he left out in his effort to show how ideal childhood was in the past, but I also discovered that his conclusion that child abuse had no effect was without foundation. Little Louis grew up with quite severe sexual problems resulting from his having experienced incest, and his adult love life consisted mainly of unhappy homosexual affairs with young men."
In fact, the more I read historians or childhood and traced back their evidence to the sources, the more I discovered that their conclusions were mainly based on the tack of evidence, a void into which they projected positive childhood experiences of love and affection. Alan Valentine, examining 600 years of letters from fathers to sons without finding a single piece of evidence of warmth or empathy, proclaimed the principle of argumentum ex silenito most succinctly: "Doubtless an infinite number of fathers have written to their sons letters that would warm and lift our hearts, if we only could find them. The happiest fathers leave no history, and it is the men who are not at their best with their children who are likely to write the heart-rending letters that survive,''(19)
This claim that all the evidence which survived should be overlooked because evidence for good childhoods somehow has disappeared was to become the bete noire [enemy, black beast] of my work for the next decade. I had always thought that the argumentum ex silenito was simply not allowed in historical research. Although admittedly the historical evidence which re-mains to us is only partial, the notion that if one reaches into a covered bowl of marbles one hundred times and pulls out a black marble each time, then the bowl can thereby be assumed to mainly contain white marbles seemed patently false to me. But, it seems, not to others when emotional issues are at stake.
Everywhere I turned I encountered this argument from silence. When, for instance, I mentioned to the author of one of the chapters of our book, The History of Childhood. that I had observed that in diaries and letters adults usually seemed to be trying to put themselves in as good a light as possible regarding their treatment of children, she replied that just the opposite was the case. Only the worst left a record in history, she said, just like only the worst gets into the papers today; all the good that parents must have done for children just got taken for granted, and never appears in our documents.(20) Most historians I read or worked with at the time either overtly or implicitly agreed with her.
When I finally concluded that what had been written about children in the history of the West was of little use to my search, I began to research the primary sources in earnest myself, and began to look for other historians who might join me in producing a book on the history of childhood in each age. I wrote to over 200 historians who had previously written social history in various periods, and worked closely for several years with over 50 of them on chapters for the book, including publishing regular bulletins and holding meetings all over the country in order to better share our progress with each other. I soon found the argumentum ex silenito standing in the way of each stage in the production of the book.
Some of the 50 historians simply set arbitrary limits on what they would cover in their chapters, limits which kept them far away from emotional-laden content. The Roman historian, for instance, turned in a draft chapter which began by stating that he would not consider the subjects of infanticide or pederasty. I had to do without his chapter. Others conveyed their research principles as we discussed their possible contributions. I had asked john Demos, for instance, to write the chapter on colonial American childhood, based on his having recently published the much-acclaimed book A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony.(21) When I met with him, one of the questions I asked revolved around his use of this argumentum ex silenito principle in his book. He had said, for instance, that American infants were not swaddl-ed, and I was puzzled by this, since the Europeans who came here were certainly swaddling their children and I knew of no reason why they all would have ceased to do so on the boat over. I asked him, "What evidence do you have for their not being swaddled? Your footnote for that statement refers the reader to Alice Morse Earle's Child Life in Colonial Days, but I don't find anything at all in Earle about swaddling." "That's just it," he replied. "I've never seen any evidence that they were swaddled." The possibility that they might have swaddled their children but Mrs. Earle just didn't come across references to it never occurred to him. Although I later round several sources attesting to the regular prac-tice of swaddling infants in colonial America, and then published these references,(22) Demos has continued to repeat the "no swaddling" statement.
In a later paper written to refute my conclusions about the ubiquity of child abuse in the past,(23) Demos defended his use of the argument from silence. He began by dismissing my extensive references to diaries, letters, autobiographers, medical reports, etc. as irrelevant, because, he said, "Personal documents . . . are probably the wrong place to search for signs of affect toward children It was better to look at court documents, he claimed, which will best give a picture of any abuse that occurred. But court documents almost never mention child abuse in colonial America. Therefore, this lack of evidence, he said, proves that "childhoods in pre-modern society . . . seem not to have known the par-ticular sufferings [of] child abuse (24) The voluminous evidence in personal reports of the time that what we today would term abuse was going on privately in the families without being prosecuted in the courts he simply ignores. To be certain he is not misunderstood, he presents clearly and forcefully the need for the childhood historian to use the lack of evidence as positive evidence:
The details of all this demand our attention because the issue at hand is a tricky one. We are trying to understand an absence of evidence . . . we need to use what is in the record to interpret what does not appear there . . . Had individual children suffered severe abuse at the hands of their parents in early New England, other adults would have been disposed to respond . . . These considerations of . . . evidence allow us to interpret the absence of [court] records of child abuse as an absence of the behavior itself.(25)
Demos' conclusions won him wide praise from reviewers, who said that he had now proved that colonial America was a much better place for families: they "suffered no crisis in the family; paternal authority remained whole; child abuse in its modern form was nonexistent; the traumas of modern adolescence and midlife were unknown; the old were honored and respected."(26)
After those who totally depended upon the silence of the records for their conclusions were eliminated as contributors to The History of Childhood, nine historians remained for inclusion in the book. Many of these, however, expurgated evidence, which badly distorted their conclu-sions. For instance, I recall visiting J.B. Ross at her home in Sanibel Island to discuss the draft of the chapter she had submitted. I said I thought it was a pretty optimistic account of Renaissance Italian childhood, and asked her if I could see some of the documents upon which she based her conclusions, particularly the Rkordi (diary) of Giovanni Morelli, who she said had pledged to raise his own son better than the neglectful way he himself had been raised. We both peered into the microfilm reader to examine the Ricordi, which she had brought back with her from the Florence State Archives, as she translated to me from the fourteenth-century Tuscan dialect. She began with Morelli's pledge to himself, as he felt the baby moving inside his wife's womb, that he was going to raise his child himself, not send him out to a baila (outside wet-nurse) for several years as he had been sent as an infant, and that he was not going to beat him, as he had been beaten. Since this was the only passage from the Ricordi that she had included in her draft chapter, 1 said I found it charming, full of the promise of the Renaissance, quite different from the earlier medieval plaint that children were born "between feces and urine,'' with the sins or Adam weighing heavily upon them. Now let's move further along in the diary, I said, and see what ac-tually happened when he had the child.
The next reference to the Morelli's first born was when he was return-ed from the baila-obviously Morelli had sent his son to an outside wet-nurse as most Italian families did at the time, despite his pledge. The final reference was when the boy was ten years old. He had just died from the plague. Morelli despaired that he had not carried out any of his original pledges to give his son a better childhood than his own. He addressed the diary entry to himself bitterly:
You loved him but never used your love to make him happy; you treated him more like a stranger than a son; you never gave him an hour of rest; you never looked approvingly at him; you never kissed him when he wanted it; you wore him out at school and with many harsh blows 27
But this passage is important, I told her. He hoped to overcome his times; he was unable to, since his own childhood had been too traumatic. Why hadn't she included it in her chapter? It seemed to typify beautifully much of what I later called "the ambivalent mode" of childrearing of later medieval times. "He is too distraught. He's too hard on himself," she replied. "Perhaps," I said. "But then say so . . . but put it in. You can t just leave it out!" She said she'd think about it. "Or, if you feel you can't put it in, let me use it in my chapter," I replied. She finally decided to put it in her chapter, pointing out that it was a result of his "excessive self-reproach."(28) However, she also removed the earlier passage describing his pledge not to beat or abandon the child, so the ambivalence disappeared.
After many such obstacles, the ten of us finally completed our chapters and circulated them to each other. This was the first time the contributors had seen my introductory chapter, "The Evolution of Childhood." Although my space was limited and I could only publish a portion of my evidence,(29) I nevertheless was able to include hundreds of examples of what I felt to be the widespread child abuse that my sources said was considered normal. My overall conclusion was that the history of childhood had showed slow and steady progress over time, and that it was an evolutionary process which was determined mainly by psychodynamics within the parent-child relationship, rather than primarily by economic factors.
The majority of contributors were aghast at both the nature of my evidence and at my conclusion that "the history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused."(30) Some refused to appear in the same book with me. One said the only way she would agree to have her chapter included was to have it appear in the book before mine. Another suggested only an edited ver-sion of my chapter should be allowed, as an Appendix. Their negative opinions were shared by Basic Books, the publisher with whom I had a contract to publish the volume. After receiving the manuscript, they broke their contract and said they wouldn't publish it.
I decided to publish the book myself, and the nine other contributors agreed to stay in the volume, a few of them revising their chapters to make clearer their distances from my conclusions. Most reviewers notic-ed the division in the book and were quick to side with the other contributors. The American Historical Review found that "each essay has merit" except "Lloyd deMause's lead article [which] ignores the cultural, economic, and demographic constituents of any given society's treatment of children [and] fails to relate the conditions of childhood in specific societies to those of adulthood . . - Perhaps historians of family life need a more sophisticated methodology, but they will not find it in the work of Lloyd deMause."(31) Social History said "deMause ... takes no notice when his collaborators, who know much more about. the specific conditions under which people lived in a particular age, suggest more rational explanations for the practices of which he disapproved. Elizabeth Marvick points out that swaddling kept babies warm in the cold houses of seventeenth-century France.''(32) The English Historical Review was grateful that "fortunately, a number of the contributors are good historians and have risen above the hysterical and culture-bound level of the introduction."(33) And the New Statesman dismissed "deMause's theories [because] he shows little discrimination in his use of historical evidence and little sensitivity to the influence of economic, social or other non-'psychogenie' influences on the history of child-rearing. His real message is something more akin to religion than to history, and as such unassailable by unbelievers. On the other hand, his fellow-contributors to The History of Childhood have much useful historical information to offer."(34)
Although some reviewers were impressed by the wealth of evidence of routine mistreatment of children in the past, most were convinced that more research would yet turn up the good parenting which they were certain was the rule in the past. Aries, for one, remained convinced that childhood yesterday was a children's paradise:
For Lloyd deMause, everything takes place between the child and its parents . . . This is not the place to discuss the ideas of the New York psychoanalytic historians. Besides, their true interest, for me, isn't in their explanation of the past, but in the testimony they bear toward a current change of attitude toward the child, no doubt because of the influence of psychoanalysis and psychiatry.
Until a very recent date when I was preparing my book, the child was still king. It still is in the home. But no longer in the realms of literature or human sciences. More and more, we've replaced the green paradise of childhood love with the black hell where parents torture their children: the family is becoming a torture garden ...
The old martyr is about to replace the child king.(35)
Yet not a single reviewer in any of the six languages in which the book was published(36) wrote about any errors in my evidence, and none presented any evidence from primary sources which contradicted any of my conclusions. From the hundreds of scholarly reviewers, all experts in their periods, I had hoped to turn up all kinds of new material to counter my conclusions. I turned up none. Since it was unlikely that I could describe the childhood of everyone who ever lived in the West for a period of over two millenia without making errors, it was extremely disappointing to me that the emotional reactions of reviewers had com-pletely overwhelmed their critical capacities. No reviewer appeared to be interested in discussing evidence at all. The most positive of the reviewers simply admitted their bewilderment at "the problem of how to regard so bold, so challenging, so dogmatic, so enthusiastic, so perverse, and yet so heavily documented a model" (Lawrence Stone),(37) while the majority simply called my research obviously worthless, "crassness and sheer foolishness . . . That men in other ages might behave quite differently from us yet be no less rational and sane, has been a basic concept amongst historians for a long time now. It does not belong to deMause's mental universe . . . the normal practices of past societies are constantly explained in terms of psychoses." (E.P. Hennock)(38) It seemed that the question of evidence about childhood in the past was unimportant when compared with the anxiety generated by straying outside the boundaries of historical relativism and opening the floodgates to a psychoanalytic interpretation of history.
I was also disappointed that the testing of my evidence did not take place in the usual manner in historical journals; most of those which would be expected to sift the evidence-like The Journal of Family History and The Journal of Social History-banned any reviews or even mention of my work or that of any of my associates from their pages. The detailed review of my evidence was instead undertaken mainly by a group of psychohistorians, most of them connected with The Institute for Psychohistory's scholarly journal, History of Childhood Quarterly (retitled The Journal of Psychohistory in 1976). Over the next 15 years, a great deal of exciting primary source research on the history of childhood was published, most of it in our journal and in books published by our Psychohistory Press, as well as in papers given at our International Psychohistorical Association Convention, Major works testing my hypothesis were written by Glenn Davis, William Langer, Richard Trex-ler, Barbara Kellum, R.H, Helmholz, Bogna Lorenee, Alenka Puhar, Friedhelm Nyssen, Aurel Ende, Raffael Scheck, Seymour Byman, Karen Taylor, Barbara Finkelstein, Ardyce Masters, Elizabeth Pleck, Roger Thompson, Joseph Illick, Henry Ebel, Peter Petschauer, Katharina kutschky, Alice Miller and Linda Pollack. I will try to summarize the work of these twenty-two childhood historians as succinctly as I can.
The first scholar to test my psychogenic theory of childrearing was Glenn Davis. A young graduate student, Davis took off two years for full-time research "through a wealth of preserved diaries, letters, and other primary materials"(39) for material on American childhood with the explicit purpose of "putting the psychogenic theory to a thorough test' for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His book, Childhood and History in America, was the most thoroughly documented testing of my theory. With detailed descriptions of the day-by-day events of many ac-tual childhoods - from those of presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to dozens of those of lesser-known people-as well as coverage of a voluminous proscriptive literature on childrearing, Davis not only confirmed the major findings described in my "socializing mode" but broke them down into four "submodes" for the four generations covered by the socializing mode. After relating these four submodes to major political themes in American history, Davis was enthusiastic about the future prospects of the theory and dared to say so openly:
I believe the psychogenic theory of history has by now passed a crucial initial test and has moved to a new stage of development; its basic propositions are supported by painstaking primary research . . . and a novel set of problems has organically emerged . . . Detailed study of the early years allows for a sense of the processes of personality formation within particular modes and submodes. Because the very for-mative processes may be observed in minute detail, the repeti-tion of traits upon maturation means these dynamics are be-ing expressed in adult personality, not caused anew by "out-side" forces...
One comes away from the psychogenic theory and the study of American childhood in an unaccustomed mood of optimism. Although such a study discovers a previously hidden and violent past, it re-humanizes history and presents the potential or unlimited continued progress, a highly unpopular view today. Man is revealed as the architect of his own fate rather than being the product of his institutions . .
Just how unpopular Davis' optimism was to prove to be and how dangerous was his confirmation of my findings he was to discover when the reviewers got hold of his book. The tone was set by a New York Times Book Review article by John Demos, who never once mentioned any of Davis' evidence or conclusions, but instead used his space to attack me and the
stream of publications currently issuing from The Institute of Psychohistory in New York, under the imprimatur of The Psychohistory Press. The director of this unusual enterprise, Lloyd deMause, provides the chief inspiration for "Childhood and History." It is often hard to tell where deMause leaves off and Davis begins. The book opens with a fawning explication of deMause's ''psychogenic theory of history''; subsequent chapters apply this theory to the record of American childhood. . . Such work debases psychology no less than history, and both disciplines would do well to disown it . . . The application of psychological theory to historical materials can, if pursued with rigor and sensitivity, contribute substantially to our understanding of the past. But not in the hands of deMause/Davis.(41)
Subsequent reviews were to confirm the pattern of the reviewers ignor-ing the contents of the book in favor of calling Davis a sycophant in order to attack me. The American Historical Review called Davis "a convert [only interested in] demonstrating the rectitude of his mentor's teaching [with] a strident tone more appropriate to the hucksterizing of a magic-formula hair restorer' than to serious historical study."(42) The Journal of American History likewise dismissed his evidence in favor of attacking me: "If deMause seems to be the Pangloss of the history of childhood, Davis, with this book, lays claim to be its Candide."(43) And so on.(44)
Although my own financial independence from academia precluded my being damaged by such attacks, the same could not be said for others. Undergraduate students began to report at Institute meetings that they had been told by college teachers to stop studying my work or they would not get into graduate school. Graduate students reported being told that if they published in my journal they would likely not get their doctorates. One graduate student told of his Columbia University oral exam at which he was asked, "Do you read The Journal of Psychohistory?'' He had given the correct answer: "No." A tenured professor who had published with me was told by his college president that if jobs had to be trimmed, "psychohistorians will go first."(45) The opinion of most of academia was best summarized by one college pro-fessor, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, who termed my work "a cancer that is metastasizing through the whole body of the historical profession."(46) It soon became obvious what one does with a cancer: one cuts it out of the body without remorse.
Davis was the first to feel the scalpel. Badly shaken by the barrage of attacks on him as my fawning flunky, Davis left psychohistory entirely, going back to take his Ph.D. in political science and to try to wipe out his identification with me. The only communication I received from him during these years was when he wrote me that Arnold Rogow, his pro-fessor of political psychology, had opened his course with the statement, "There are two authors you are not allowed to mention in this course: Melanie Klein and Lloyd deMause."
Four years later, Davis had passed all his written work for his doc-torate with distinction and at last went before his orals committee. As he walked in, he was surprised to Find the members of the committee pass-ing around a copy of the book from which he was trying to escape, Childhood and History in America. Obviously his attempt to distance himself from me had not succeeded. His oral exam began with and kept returning to statements I had made. A committee member opened the orals by citing a statement by me from the Appendix to the book. Davis wrote me what had happened:
Stanley Renshon: (Taking out a copy of Childhood and History in America.) It says in your book, "Groups go to war in order to overcome the helplessness and terror of being trapped in a birth canal.'' (Laughter all around the table.)
Glenn Davis: Well, I want to make it clear that that statement appears in the Appendix written by Lloyd deMause, whose macro-theory the book is basically an application of. . . uh, it should be noted that that is one of the most radical statements in the book and might be usefully looked at as a metaphor
(Davis crawls out after the exam, feeling as if he had been hit by a baseball bat. Twenty minutes later Davis is called back into the exam room for the verdict.)
Howard Lentner : Mr. Davis, the Committee has decided that you will retake the entire oral and retake the written in the international politics section.
Glenn Davis: (recovering) Wait a minute. I can understand the oral, but you wrote a letter to me and signed the statement that I had passed the written
Howard Lentner: (Goes to his office, comes back with letter:
"I am pleased to inform you that you have passed the written section of the Second Exam.") Uh, okay, we'll renounce the requirement to retake part of the written.(47)
Davis left graduate school, went to law school for a month and then dropped out, and several months later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
During the 1970s, dozens of articles testing various elements of my psychogenic theory began to be published in our psychohistory journal.
On my evidence for extensive infanticide in the West until modern times, William Langer backed my conclusions in two widely-reproduced essays(44) citing further evidence from church and court records, foundling hospitals, medical reports and other sources, all of which showed that in-fanticide was far more widespread than anyone had yet imagined. In another two essays,(49) Richard Trexler cited extensive census and hospital evidence documenting the larger number of boys over girls in fifteenth- century Florence, due both to routine female infanticide at birth, resulting in 20 percent more boys than girls, and to differential treatment by balie during their first year which also resulted in the deaths of many more girls than boys. Particularly interesting was his finding that the rich committed infanticide on an even greater scale than the poor, as evidenced by their higher boy/girl ratio, a finding later confirmed by Emily Coleman in her study of a French census of 800 A.D.(50) These and other demographic figures, which I later analyzed in details (51) showed that the assumption that infanticide was only a result of poverty was actually contrary to the evidence. In addition, the argument of one reviewer that "serious demographers" doubted the reliability of the imbalanced sex ratios(52) was traced to the work of a single demographer, David Herlihy, who had assumed that whenever there was a high boy/girl ratio it must have been due to "miscounting."(53) Summarizing these census figures-as well as the work of Barbara Kellum and R.H. Helmholz on English infanticide in the later Middle Ages(54) - - I concluded that the statistics indicated that "little girls grew up in a filicidal atmosphere, knowing that their life was cheap, that their siblings were being killed through infanticide and neglect by the millions, and that the decline of this massive filicide by early modern times was part of an important im-provement in their ability to mother their own children in turn when they grew up."(55) The best estimate I could make from the statistics was that in antiquity about half of all children born were killed by their caretakers, declining to about a third by later medieval times and to a very small percentage by the seventeenth century in Western Europe and America.
Nine additional important studies published in our journal examined childhood in detail from original source material gathered in various European countries, each filling in details on the extent of routine child abuse which my essay had only touched upon. Bogna Lorence concluded that "In eighteenth-century Europe the manner of parents and society toward children was typified by two opposing attitudes. One, which can be characterized as an attitude of essential indifference, consisted by minimal contact with children and a modicum of concern about them ...
At the other end were intrusive parents, who at their most extreme deter-mined to totally mold and supervise their children "(56)The former she found most in the upper classes, the latter in the middle classes. Alenka Puhar, working from extensive Yugoslav personal, medical and folk material, pictured the twilight world of evil spirits which surrounded the child, leading parents to subject them to continuous assaults to "protect" them from witches, devils and incubi.(57) From birth on, the infant was
kept tightly bound, filthy, mangy . they threw live coals three times over the bewitched child [one who cried too much, and] put sharp objects into the cradle-knives, needles, forks, nails, and so on-to protect against incubi. These objects were sometimes laid beside the child, sometimes placed on its chest or stuck between its swaddling-clothes . . . In many places the child's nipples were smeared with . . . excrement... children could be saved from demons if they were held by one foot, upside down, over an open fire . . . Bedwetting ... was especially disturbing for parents, who often slept in the same bed as their children Ritual beating" was used... Children were also made to drink their own urine . . - it was enough for a child to be scabby for it to be sat on the peel [baker's shovell and pushed into the hot oven for a moment; we can infer that it was really hot from the fact that this was practiced at bread-baking time, or, rather, at the moment when the baked loaves were pulled out of the oven . . . from Koroska comes the custom of popping a new-born child into the oven for a moment if it had been born with an "old face"
...Very close to the idea if putting the new-born child into the oven was the practice of holding it above the open fireplace or over boiling water. or pouring "iron water," that is, the water in which a blacksmith cools hot iron, oyer it. Moederndorf ... wrote of iron water treatment that "the patient suffered great pain.(58)
In Germany, Friedhelm Nyssen wrote a book, Die Geschichte derKin-dheit bei L. De Mause, which examined each of the propositions in my "Evolution of Childhood" essay, tracing down my sources and alternate sources which he was able to locate. Nyssen generally confirmed my documentation, while expressing reservations about the overall psychogenic theory. At the same time, two German graduate students, writing their doctoral theses on German childhood, published a number of articles in the journal and in the German annual Kindheit based upon their research. Aurel Ende, concentrating on the severe beatings inflicted upon German children throughout history, opened the journal article by apologizing that if his work
gives the impression that the following pages will not deal whh the "brighter side" of German childhood, it is simply because it turns out that there is no ''bright side" . . . There was no way to escape their regular beatings . . . Hostile attitudes against children were not only the result of awful economic conditions . . The living conditions for some decades now have been very good compared to a century ago, but figures for the "average" German still say that sixty to eighty percent of German parents currently beat their children.(60)
Particularly intriguing was Ende's evidence that few German infants were adequately fed, perhaps hair not being breastfed at all, having little but a dirty rag, a Zuip, filled with bread and sugar, to suck on, even when the adults in the family were well fed.
Raffael Scheck, examining over seventy autobiographies by Germans born between 1740 and 1820, confirmed Ende's findings in great detail. For instance, although the writers tried hard to idealize their parents, he says, there is voluminous evidence that
There is virtually no autobiography which doesn't tell something about violence against children and almost no author who has not been beaten as a child . . . Drunken, frustrated and irascible parents (especially fathers), teachers, and sometimes also elder siblings beat or abuse children heavily in these accounts. The child is absolutely guiltless: he doesn't provoke the aggressor and is simply used as a lightn-ing rod for the frustrations of the adults . . . the abusive actions didn't occur only once, but periodically (weekly or even daily) . . Children who had not been beaten at home could be sure that they would be beaten in a public school . . Every morning, screaming children were dragged violently to school ...If instruments were used for beating (as they very often were), they were sticks and canes of different sizes, rods or various whips (e.g. ox sinews) which could be supplied with a lead bullet for fingers - . . In Cologne, one could actually hire two men to beat one's own children.(61)
Scheck said his research generally confirmed the psychogenic childrearing modes I proposed:
The most progressive childrearing modes I have noticed in the autobiographies are intrusive and sometimes socializing. This conforms to deMause's time schedule, which sets the beginn-ing of the socializing mode around 1780, the middle of the time period covered here. Often the two modes were combined; the parental behavior shifts between the need to control and the ability to let the child go its own path to reach the goals of his parents, with an increasing confidence that the child would act as a delegate of parental wishes . . . In most autobiographies can be felt how much children loved their parents even when they were cold, beating and abusive. But the loving child was rejected, despised, abused and drawn in strange directions . - . Although love and tenderness bet-ween adults and children are sometimes mentioned in the ac-counts, this normally was not much more than a little oasis in a harsh and unfriendly everyday life. But just because these experiences were rare, they were especially worth mentioning. When tenderness was constant, it was mostly in a suffocating symbiotic clinging between child and mother or wet nurse. Nevertheless, these children were perhaps the luckiest ones.(61)
Scheck's concluding question is an interesting one, so far unanswered and quite important in understanding contemporary and future childrearing modes:
I am still preoccupied with one question concerning the evolu-tion of childhood: how does a psychogenic mode change when it is not any more the newest, most progressive or dominating childrearing mode and when it is overlapped, at-tacked and criticized by more advanced modes? Is, for in-stance, the abandoning mode the same at the time of its emergence and spread in the early middle ages and at the time around 1800, when it is attacked and antiquated?
The obvious answer is, of course, "no." The Greek pederast lives a very different life in a society which idealizes his need to molest boys from the pederast of today, who has to cope with the illegality of his acts. So, too, child abandonment was different when one had monasteries to drop off one's unwanted children than it is today. But exactly how major childrearing modes differ today from yesterday-as well as how they differ from country to country-has yet to be investigated in detail.
Six Anglo-American historians wrote studies which tested my findings: five of them agreed and one disagreed with me. Seymour Byman, ex-amining childrearing documents during the Tudor period, concluded: "My analysis of the Tudor period fits into the psychogenic theory of history of Lloyd deMause. DeMause sees the melancholy of the Tudor period as a result of the 'ambivalent mode' of childrearing, which he finds produces a 'depressive personality'."(63) Although much of his material is the same as that of the German historians as to swaddling, beating and other punishments, his study was particularly interesting because he was the first to find evidence of early intrusive toilet training - including the use or suppositories and enemas - in contrast to what he calls "the old chestnut" that early modern parents were unconcerned with toilet training. as other historians such as Demos and Stone had concluded from the absence of evidence in the documents they examined.(64) Similarly, Karen Taylor, in two rich essays in our journal, not only carefully documented the passionate resistance to the anti-beating movement in the nineteenth century,(65) but in addition discovered an entirety unexpected source of documentation for the sexual abuse of children in the past: medical records which reported regularly finding venereal disease on children's genitals, mouths and anuses when their parents had the disease.(66) Since the spirochete that causes syphilis, for example, can only survive for seconds outside the body, the children's organs had to have been in direct contact with the sexual organs of their caretakers, mainly fathers, uncles, boarders and neighbors-although the reporting doctors tried to blame anyone else, from the wetnurses to the victims' own wickedness, for the disease. When crusading doctors in the last half of the nineteenth century challenged these medical ra-tionalizations, it soon became apparent that sexual intercourse with children-most of those Taylor discovered were under five years of age(67) - may have been extraordinary widespread in England and America in the nineteenth century.
Two other American historians tested aspects of my psychogenic theory in several articles in our journal. Barbara Finkelstein examined in great detail the evolution of American education, both in school and at home, as it moved from the intrusive to the socializing mode since Col-onial times,(68) In her extensive search for primary sources, Finkelstein found that nineteenth-century schools reflected "what deMause has call-ed the intrusive mode of child-rearing" and that ''the behavior of teachers somehow reflected parental values and anxieties, that explana-tions of teacher behavior need not be found only in the needs of the marketplace, nor even necessarily in the intellectual currents swirling about nineteenth-century society, but in the psycho-dynamic elements of family life and of adult-child relationships as well.''(69) Similarly, Ardyce Masters traces the evolution of various group-fantasies using dolls as ''delegates . containers for our experiences, for our anxieties and con-cerns, especially with anxieties connected with male fears of independent women."(70)
An important study of 110 American autobiographies, dairies, letters and other documents between 1650 and 1900 by Elizabeth Pleck, Domestic Tyranny: The Making of American Social Policy Against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present, confirms the slow decrease in physical punishment of children during the period. Since Pleck's sources were so extensive, she was able to quantify her findings; although she emphasizes that most of her sources were highly educated and possibly kinder to their children than the average parent, she reports that
A statistical analysis of the childhood recollections leads to the conclusion that whipping gave way to spanking in the first half of the nineteenth century. Corporal punishment had not disappeared, but it became milder in form. All the children in my sample born between 1750 and 1799 were hit with an object Among children born between 1800 and 1849, about 80 percent were hit with an instrument at least once in their childhood; among children born between 1850 and 1899, the figure was 73 percent [while] in the 1970s . . about 20 percent of American children have at some time in their childhood been hit by their parents with an instrument.(71)
Roger Thompson, the only historian of the six whose findings disagree with mine, limits himself solely to court records, as Demos had done previously. Thompson begins by asking, "does a paucity of cases in child abuse indicate the offence was rare, or that only cases of outrageous cruelty were deemed criminal?"(72) Since his Middlesex county court records showed only one case of cruelty toward children each decade, Thompson's self-limitation of sources-the argutnentum ex silenejo again - is obviously responsible for his conclusion that he has disproved my findings, and that "Childhood does not seem to have been hell on earth for most young people in early modern New England."(73)
Three psychohistorians have challenged directly my work on the history of childhood: Joseph Illick, Henry Ebel and Peter Petschauer. Their articles deserve a careful reading by anyone concerned with writing childhood history, as all three care deeply about the held and have con-tributed to its development in a major way. I will try here only to answer their most important objections to my work.
Joseph Illick, one of the contributors to The History of Childhood, centered much of his 1985 paper on his understandable disappointment that more has not been published in childhood history in the years that had passed since the book had been published. Most of that disappoint-ment was directed toward me for having created unfulfilled expectations:
DeMause created an interest in the history of childhood which did not exist before, and he has been the original source of inspiration for most of the scholarship on childhood in this country over the past decade . . . Ten years have passed, and the answers are not there. What happened? . . . [Criticism of deMause] seemed to demand a response from the author of "The Evolution of Childhood," but none was forthcoming. Much energy, instead, was put into another magazine, an in-stitute with workshops and a training program. The history of childhood, if not put to death, was at least abandoned . . It was Lloyd deMause who once brought the conventional historians like myself into such a situation, and I wish he were still disposed to do so. (74)
It is tempting to reply to Illick's challenge with the response of Aurel Ende, whose comments followed Illick's article: "A very honest sentence. But if the future of the history of childhood depends on Lloyd deMause alone it seems to me we should forget the whole enterprise, and pretty soon."(75) It is also tempting to reply that, after all, I did continue to encourage quite a few scholars to write on childhood history and did finance and edit a journal in which they could publish their results, that I published several additional books on childhood history in my Psychohistory Press,(76) and that - although I wrote mainly on group psychohistory during the past decade - I actually continued to research childhood history, so that by now my files of unpublished materials fill five file drawers in my office.
But of course these would be mere conscious excuses. [hick could ask-my psychoanalyst did ask - "How long will you fill more drawers with unpublished material? Are you afraid of more criticism such as that you've experienced so far? Are you still looking for the approval of historians, who have every good reasons to resist your findings, since they would be required to revise a great deal of what they have written should your view prevail?" To which I can only answer: "Mea culpa." Perhaps Illick's challenge to me has had something to do with my recently having resumed publishing articles on childhood history.
A second section of Illick's thoughtful piece questions two specific em-pirical findings of mine. My evidence on infanticide, he says, is partly based on two assumptions which he says are doubtful: (a) That Carthage had child sacrifice, and (b) that Greeks had widespread infanticide. My sources, he says, are unreliable, since "the Carthaginian ... child sacrifice . . . stories were told by their bitter enemies, the Romans, who also claimed that Christians and Jews ate children," and since Sarah Pomeroy had concluded that "The natural mortality of infants in Classical Athens was so high as to preclude the wholesale practice of infanticide."(77) Fortunately, both objections can be answered conclusively from recent research.
Child sacrifice in Carthage and elsewhere was not only reported by such ancient authorities as Tertullian, Plutarch, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and others.(78) It has also been confirmed by modern archeologists, who have found cremation urns, religious paraphernalia and children's charred bones in many locations and in great quantity, with 20,000 urns estimated for one Carthage sacred precinct alone (The Tophet).79 The children were usually infants and were thrown live into the fire of Moloch by their parents as fulfillment of a vow to "repay" the deity from whom the parent had previously asked some favor, such as success in a commercial venture. In Knossos, apparently the ritual also included the cooking and eating of the children as part of a fertility rite, judging by the manner in which the flesh had been carefully cut away from the children's bones.(80) By now, the practice has been quite thoroughly studied by teams of archeologists and classicists and the reports by the ancients of its widespread use have been confirmed in detail.
The same can be said of infanticide in antiquity. After Pomeroy wrote the book from which Illick quoted, much work on infanticide in antiqui-ty has been done, mainly by Emil Eyben, whose definitive work, "Fami-ly Planning in Antiquity," contains hundreds of relevant references from primary sources to the existence of routine infanticide, plus many records of very high boy/girl ratios, backing his conclusion that infanticide was widespread well into medieval times." (81)
The second psychohistorian who subjected my essay to careful scrutiny was Henry Ebel, in his 1977 essay "The Evolution of Childhood Reconsidered."(82) Ebel agreed with my overall assertion that "the history of our species is the history of a slow general improvement in child-care based on a growing toleration, by parents, of the anxieties induced in them by their children."(83) But the process which r termed evolution and ascribed to factors intrinsic in all parent-child relations Ebel felt was a unique result of the spread of Christianity: '''Psychogenic' progress is the remarkable history of a single variant strain in the history of humani-ty . . . what deMause calls the 'evolution of childhood' is the geographical and eventually global spread of feelings once confined to a small corner of the Mediterranean basin."(84) As evidence, one would ex-pect some examination of whether other societies did or did not in fact show progress in childrearing only upon important contact with Christianity. But Ebel instead appeals to religious faith, as experienced in deep therapeutic states:
Am I suggesting, therefore, that the history of the world, and the history of childhood, provide new evidence for a divine purpose working itself out through time? The question is all the more pertinent in view of the fact that reports from some of the more advanced "deep therapies" of our time all carry accounts of trancendental experiences on the parts of the participants-often involving the flgure of Christ, or other religions and prophetic leaders-that leave behind a permanent Conviction as to the reality of a universe beyond our own.(85)
I would put this in terms which I think can make what Ebel says closer to my own feelings. If the "deep'' therapies he experienced and the ''religious'' feelings experienced by some Christians (and other transmuting religions) are both kinds of "regressions in the service of the ego" that, like psychoanalytic therapy, involve re-establishing contact with deeply repressed infantile feelings and undoing repression, then they can be thought of as similar to the process that I termed "psychogenesis" - which I defined as "the ability of successive genera-tions of parents to regress to the psychic age of their children and work through the anxieties of that age in a better manner the second time they encounter them than they did during their own childhood. The process is similar to that of psychoanalysis, which also involves regression and a second chance to face childhood anxieties."(86) What matters is the re-experiencing of long-ago repressed anxieties and the re-making of psychic decisions. Ebel says this can only be done by Christians or those in contact with them. I agree on the process, only feel that all parents can accomplish the regression / re-decision process in the course of being a parent, under the best of conditions. Of course, one can more easily suc-ceed at being a better parent if one's country is at peace, if there is no famine, if women and children are valued by your religious leaders, and so on. Going beyond your own childhood is hard enough in the best of times, so all positive support Systems matter a great deal. But the dynamics of psychogenesis, the force behind childrearing progress, is still psychological, not economic and not religious (unless one means by "religion" everything psychologically deep, which perhaps Ebel does).
The third psychohistorian to test my findings is Peter Petschauer, a German family historian, Much of Petschauer's research among German-speaking families extended in much greater detail what I had touched upon: the stiff swaddling, "successful'' toilet training at seven weeks, restraint training such as formal lessons in sitting quietly (stillsitzen), the use of severe punishment to "expunge evilness and break wills,'' dressing up as devils and threatening to carry away the child,(87) etc. The second of Petschauer's three articles(88) focuses on an assumption that I would probably call his parents "abandoning mode" because they chose to remove him from the dangers of war-torn Germany in 1944 and put him in a safe Italian village-an assumption which is actually mistaken, since all my examples of this mode came from wealthy families who were living in safety.(89) In his most recent work,(90) Petschauer ex-amines and compares two sources for the transition from the intrusive to the socializing modes of childrearing: a twentieth-century German-speaking Italian village, Afers, where he grew up and which he later revisited, and various eighteenth-century German sources. With ex-quisite psychological acumen, Petschauer examines precisely what social changes encouraged certain individuals in each area to ''break through to an awareness of the need for parents to participate in the rearing of off-spring."(91) He finds the transition to the socializing mode more easily accomplished through those conditions which forced mothers to "rake hold of the upbringing of their children,''(92) whether because of the disap-pearance of servants or because of the increase in privacy for women. Because he could interview his subjects in Afers and recapture their memories of the recent past-and because he was able to frame pertinent questions developed through his and other psychohistorians' work-Petschauer's additions to childhood history have been extremely valuable, particularly in relation to groups undergoing rapid change due to culture contact. Furthermore, his questions about differential practices within the same village and conditions which allow some families to make rapid progress open up the ultimate questions about the evolu-tionary mechanisms allowing selection of variation and psychological niche, paralleling similar questions in Darwinian evolutionary theory.(93)
The last three childhood historians who have addressed my psychogenic theory are all European scholars, whose books have been widely read and discussed in several countries. One of them, Alice Miller, confirms my work; a second, Katharina Rutschky, confirms its empirical material but condemns the theory; a third, Linda Pollock, totally opposes both my findings and my theories.
Alice Miller's writings on childhood history are perhaps the best-known of any today for the general public.(94) Extensively documented and passionately argued, they detail a picture of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as the everyday reality or most children yesterday and today, documented from her own practice and from the historical fin-dings of Rutschky, Helm Stierlin, Florence Rush, myself and others. Besides the wealth of her clinical and historical sources, one of the most valuable insights for childhood historians is Miller's interpretation of the source of our denial of the reality of child abuse-what she calls the first commandment of childhood, "thou shalt not be aware," the unspoken command that requires that children be silent about their sufferings at the hands of their caretakers. "The truth laid bare in . . . The History of Childhood," she says, in words almost identical with those of Davis a decade earlier, "is sad and depressing, but it holds hope for the future; those who read this book and realize that the children described here later turned into adults will no longer find the atrocities in human history hard to understand . . . But the road to the realization of the new ideal is frequently blocked by the need to repress the sufferings of one's childhood, and this leads to a lack of empathy."(95) The ultimate source of the argumentum ex silentio could not have been better stated.
The educational historian upon which Miller drew so heavily, Katharina Rutschky, is the author of two rich sourcebooks on the history of pedagogy, Schwarze Paedogogik and Deutsche Kinder-Chronik.(96) While all of Rutschky's conclusions parallel mine and her extensive citations of the "black pedagogy" of the past confirm in overwhelming detail the work of Ende, Scheck and Petschauer, she takes violent excep-tion to the last of my childrearing modes, the "helping mode," because she says I really don't mean it to be non-intrusive, and I am in reality a "black pedagogue" myself in disguise.(97) As Nyssen pointed out in his Jahrbuch der Kindheit article comparing our two views,(98) Rutschky is so suspicious of the motives of adults that even my mild term "helping" ap-pears repressive and moralistic to her. Besides this, she is even doubtful whether one could say that childhood for some is better today, although she does not actually examine studies which are available on the recent decline of German beating of children, etc.(99) (Rutschky's pessimism about the possibility of any progress at all in childrearing is shared by other Germans, such as Klaus Arnold, who, in his Kind and Gesellschaft in Mittelalter und Renaissance. calls my notion that childhood has improved "downright nonsense."(100))
The most frequently-cited book which denies that there has been any progress in childrearing, however-and the one which most extensively uses the principle of argumentum cx silenno - is Linda Pollack's Forgot-ten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900.(101) Reviewers have uniformly hailed it as finally disproving "the works of Aries, Stone, Shorter, deMause and almost everyone else who has written on the subject [which are] shown to be inadequate, not only in their use of evidence, but also in their overall conclusions . . . The previous conception of the history of childhood no longer stands."(102) Termed "a turning point in the study of the history of childhood," (103) Pollock's book is said by another reviewer to apply for the first time ''modern rigorous research methodology"(104) to show that there was
no significant change in parental care or affection given to an infant throughout the four centuries. With few exceptions, children seemed to be quite attached to their parents as in-fants and continued to have deep affection for them. Over the centuries children were an integral part of their families, hap-py, free from worry, and certainly not oppressed or regimented. Parents were clearly aware of the individuality of their offspring and sought to suit their mode of child care to the particular child.(105)
Pollack describes her research methodology in a chapter of breathtak-ing originality. She proposes that all the primary sources used by child historians to date must be ignored except for diaries and autobiographies.(106) Since only 27 out of the 496 sources she examined were primarily autobiographies, she therefore overwhelmingly relied on parents' diaries for her book. Thus, in order for abuse of children to considered present for her, it would have to have been written down by the perpetrator. (A similar methodology would construct a statistical history of crime by ignoring all police reports and relying solely on the diaries of criminals to establish crime rate statistics.)
Even this severe restriction, however, produced far too many revela-tions of child abuse for Pollock. She therefore found it necessary to use the argumentum ex silenito in its most extreme form: every absence of evidence for mistreatment of children she found in the diaries she counted as positive evidence of love and affection and proof that no punishment was ever administered. That is, where the parent simply did not mention how they treated their child she counted this as proof that there was no abuse. Here is her explanation of her rationale for this procedure:
If the beating of children was considered by society to be perfectly acceptable, even praiseworthy, as has been suggested by some historians, then there would be no need for the diarist to conceal it. [Thus] the diaries do contain details on punishment when it occurred
This allows her, for instance, to make such statements as that in the eigh-teenth century only 12 percent of British and 4 percent of American diarists used physical punishment, whereas in fact all she had evidence for was that 12 and 4 percent of the diarists wrote down details of their beatings, while all the rest did not mention beatings (and none stated there were no beatings.)(107) The possibility that one could beat one's child without writing it down in one's diary is considered impossible
Although most reviewers appeared not to mind this odd methodology, one historian, Elizabeth Pleck, who examined all the same American diaries as Pollock(108) and came to exactly the opposite conclusion, noticed the trick and objected that
Linda Pollock . . . believes that the absence of information reflects the absence of punishment [and] further argues that child abuse in the past was relatively infrequent, and that in every period of history one could find enlightened parents who treated their children gently. However, her reading of the evidence is suspect: she interprets the absence of information about abuse as evidence of mild treatment . . .(109)
Once Pollocks' methodology is in place, it is not too difficult for her to claim that in every century only a very small percentage of parents beat their children, for "brutality was the exception rather than the rule thc majority of children were not subjected to brutality . . . there have been very few changes in parental care and child life from the 16th to the 19th century ...(110)
What, then, is the present state of writing childhood history after almost two decades of work in the field? It is, of course, encouraging to have Aurel Ende conclude in our journal that "the important thing to note about virtually all the studies of childhood history which have come out over the last ten years is that they confirm the first findings of Lloyd deMause and the other researchers in The History of Childhood study back in 1973."(111) But professional historians almost completely ignore this work, and rely instead on such works as Philip Greven's The Protestant Temperament, which says American colonists were "notable for the intensity of their affection and love [and] adored their children from in-fancy on,"(112) or Lawrence Stone's The Family, Sex and Marriage, which considers any notion of progress in treatment of children a "simplistic linear model"(113) since most children in history have not been loved or hated, or both, by their parents; they have been neglected or ignored by them."(114) Most books and journals written today for historians handle the rich childhood material discovered by psychohistorians by saying, as does Daniel Blake Smith, that "Lloyd deMause appears obsessed with discovering child abuse or neglect in times past"(115) and then quickly moving on to more cheerful aspects of family history.
Perhaps the rejection of our findings by most 'professional historians is, however, an expected reaction, one which Kuhn has shown has been the rule for new paradigms introduced in other disciplines.(116) One simply does not convert those who hold the dominant paradigm, he finds; one waits until they die off, while teaching the new paradigm to the next generation. Besides, despite the opposition of academia, The History of Childhood,"(117) Alice Miller's For Your Own Good and Florence Rush's superb history of childhood sexual abuse, The Best Kept Secret,'" are undoubtedly now read by more students around the world than any of the other books mentioned in this essay. Perhaps this is an indication that a new paradigm is being disseminated.
Childhood history has just begun. A few dozen good studies may not seem much to show for two decades of work, when compared, for in-stance, to the tens of thousands of excellent books and articles produced by feminist historians during the same time period. But feminist history does not require a new paradigm; it utilizes the tradition of protest history invented earlier by other persecuted groups. If childhood history-and psychohistory-mean anything, they mean reversing most of the causal arrows used by historians to date. Rather than our historical model being one where an overpowering world inexorably impresses itself upon the tatula rasa of the mind, the world itself will in-stead be viewed as a tabula rasa which is only given meaning and form by each new generation by an evolving mind (and an evolving brain)(119) whose structure is formed by parent-child interaction. Such a paradigm shift will not be easy to accomplish.
Nor wilt it be easy to continue to document what it felt like to have been a child in the past. Our sources are sparse, far more so than for feminist history. I have become used to having to search for weeks through hundreds of potential sources in order to find a single paragraph which is of use to me. The task of extending our findings so far about some of the gross physical characteristics of child care in the past to the more subtle psychological factors of how parents handle trust, explora-tion, individuation, interdependence and all the other crucial emotional elements of growing up will be extremely difficult. Both our sources and our personal resistances work against us.
Yet we have already opened the door a crack. It is too late now to close it.