Sentences between squared brackets do not appear in the original Spanish version of the manuscript.
The Return of Quetzalcoatl: Chapter 3
by César Tort
Periodization of Parental-filial Relations
In recent decades several historians without any link to the deMausean school have written about thirty books on histories of childhood. I will mention only a couple of those published in 2005: When Children Became People by Odd Magne Bakke and Growing Up: The History of Childhood in a Global Context by Peter Stearns. DeMause has iteratively complained that books of this sort are presented to history students as if childrearing in the past had been as benign as Western childrearing in our times. Stearns for example is author and editor of more than forty books, but he does not cite a single of the fifty or so psychohistorians. I have encountered this attitude only in some scholarly books by parapsychologists who ignore, en bloc, the texts of skeptical criticism of the paranormal hypothesis. In his book Stearns attempts to absolve the parents by claiming that, as some encyclopedias do, infanticide has had an economic motivation; when it is well documented that in some periods infanticide was more common in well-off families. In a similar vein, at the end of his book Stearns claims that modern childhood is more prone to mental disorders than in traditional cultures: the diametrically opposed to what the facts tell us, as we will see in the next chapters.
The main stages of Western childrearing according to deMause.
Only half of the graph is valid, as explained on page 509.
Psychogenesis is the process of the evolution of empathy, and, therefore, of childrearing forms in an innovative group of human beings. In a particular individual it is an evolution of the architecture of his or her mentality, including the cognition of how the world is perceived. Psychogenesis depends on the parents’ breaking away from the abusive memes in which they were educated: a phenomenon that deMause has occasionally observed in the historical migrations of people that left behind some of their childrearing methods. Referring to biological evolution, Julian Huxley said that evolution has been “an enormous number of blind alleys, with a very occasional path of progress”. With the exception of the most advanced culture, something similar can be said of the cultures of the world (cf., for example, how Islam has stayed for centuries in a psychogenic blind alley in its treatment of women and, consequently, of children).
The above graph does not represent biological evolution from worm to man, but psychogenic evolution: specifically, the seven psychoclasses identified in psychohistory.
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Although only six modes appear in the graph, deMause divides the mode depicted as a horizontal bar in two periods, as shown below. Had the first period of the infanticidal stage appeared in the graph, it would have been an extremely long prolongation of the bar into the left because, in addition to Antiquity, it would have comprised the Neolithic and even the Paleolithic. For practical purposes, the graph starts approximately from the year 200 CE (Common Era) and, although it illustrates psychogenic modes in the West, it does not show Greece at its peak. For deMause, the farther it is rummaged into the past, the more abusive the parental-filial relations. Henceforth the graph is always ascendant (precisely his mistake, as we will see in the third section). With the exception of the helping mode of childrearing that barely started in some Western families of the twentieth century, the rest of the stages have been, from greater to lesser degree, abusive. In the next paragraphs I will rephrase diverse deMausean texts of how the seven psychoclasses evolved, and at the same time will include some ideas of my own.
Early infanticidal childrearing
Infanticidal, incestuous and abusive behavior has been observed among primates. For psychohistory there exists apparently only a slight evolutionary leap forward of childrearing from our primate forefathers to the family forms in the most primitive nomadic tribes. DeMause calls it early infanticidal childrearing. Most of this stage covers the period in which paleontologists and archeologists have found vestiges of ritual killings of very young humans and pre-humans: from the Paleolithic to the dawning of the Neolithic. In savage tribes this form has persisted till our times, like the headhunters of Mundurukú in Brazil or the aboriginals of some Oceania islands.
In Western societies of the twenty-first century a type of family persists that, it could be said, roughly equals this psychoclass: the families that schizophrenicize their children, or turn them into serial killers or violent criminals (see Alice Miller’s study on the child Hitler, or this biography on a criminologist who discovered what transforms an ordinary person into a violent criminal).
Late infanticidal childrearing
When the treatment of children became less brutal in a group of innovative parents, confidence among adult individuals grew to the degree that social links, solid enough to allow the creation of the first villages and city- states, could be established: a milestone in the ascent of man. But infanticide continued. All societies of the Ancient World invented sacrifices in which infants were killed in honor to the deities. However, after the Babylonian captivity some Hebrews abandoned the sacrificial practice. Other peoples, including the Greeks, abandoned the ritual sacrifice of children and introduced a less savage form of getting rid of them: unsheltered exposure. Since the psychological after-effects of a surviving sibling who grows up knowing that his parents ritually sacrificed a little sister is different from the abandonment of the newborn he never met — in addition to comparatively better child care in the Greek and Roman world — this evolutionary leap explains the explosion of arts and sciences in the classical world.
As can be appreciated in the graph, psychoclasses live together in our times. In the graph the most common forms of childrearing stand out, occupying most of the graph space. This is why the horizontal bar of infanticide, which segment can be seen in red on page 509, appears since the first centuries of our era and continues through the Middle Ages up to our age. [The page number refers to the printed manuscript; in Gates of Vienna it will appear in the fourth discursion.] Abundant testimonies exist of infanticide in the Middle Ages, and complaints were even heard from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The form of late infanticide by exposure continued in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in underdeveloped countries. Compared to the West, in the Third World many parents are stagnated in more archaic forms of childrearing. As already noted, paper notes are common about mothers who kill their newborns in India. More advanced psychogenic sectors within that nation and in other backward countries have started to emerge to abolish the custom.
Church authorities initiated a persistent struggle against infanticide (a struggle that continues in present times in the form of opposition to abortion: a subject that psychohistorians ignore). According to deMause’s analytic interpretation, Christians saw in their children their seriously injured inner self, and consequently the child still was the object of great fear. Instead of liberating the fear by exposing their babies, deMause’s theory goes, in the early Middle Ages some families started to practice oblation: abandoning their children to the monasteries. It was a less brutal form to elude the dangers of their projections. In the West children were not only abandoned in the monasteries; sending them to wet nurses or delivering them to adoptive parents or to other homes for years was a generalized practice in Europe’s middle and upper social classes.
The beginnings of the twelfth century mark the end of child abandonment in monasteries. Nevertheless, the baby continues to be a creature full of adult projections and had to be castigated. The child is swaddled with long-spun bands until he or she looks like a log, completely immobilized and deprived from the use of its limbs: a torment if we think of the liberties that, with recent technology, can be observed on the free movements that unborn babies enjoy in the womb. Swaddling the infant was a common practice in former psychoclasses, who swaddled their offspring for periods of several months to one year. For deMause this practice was universal and it goes back to the second millennium BCE (Before Common Era).
However, by reducing even more infanticide and child abandonment, the members of the new and more advanced psychoclass, less dissociated than the medieval man, eventually produced the Reformation and the Renaissance.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century the level of psychic integration of a small group of innovative parents accomplished one more step forward in the unfolding of empathy, and the child appeared less dangerous. As the parental projections were further reduced, mothers started to un-swaddle the infant. In the intrusive mode, however, the frequency of the beatings continued. DeMause writes: “Of the seventy children prior to the eighteenth century whose lives I have found, all were beaten except one: Montaigne’s daughter.” Since human tendency is to attach to the perpetrator [cf. the first chapter] and to recreate in the next generation the educational memes, beaten children beat their offspring, as had been done in the ambivalent mode, too.
Nevertheless, since the intrusive mode was even more empathic and less abusive than the previous mode, the new psychoclass was responsible for the scientific and technological advances of the seventeenth century that eventually led to the Industrial Revolution.
This is the psychoclass that less explanation requires: it is the form of childrearing in which most Westerners have been raised.
By the nineteenth century some parents did not believe it necessary to terrorize or batter their children. Instead, they resorted to psychological forms of manipulation. Socialized children were granted far more respect and liberty than any other child of the previous childrearing stages. Although the socialized child rarely calls into question the status quo, the socialized generation, and here we might also include the families of the most Westernized Eastern and Latin American nations, is emotionally more robust than our coetaneous from other psychoclasses.
DeMause is a radical liberal who believes that all wars are the work of dissociated minds. His psycho-reductionist vision of the world is a reaction as to how he was abused as a child (occasionally, in his diverse writings deMause confesses the abuses he suffered as a boy). In the above paragraph on late infanticide I took the liberty of talking of Greece and Rome in more luminous terms than the rather sinister vision in deMausean texts, which means that as early as this chapter I have started a slight revision of psychohistory. However, given the fact that what deMause understands for “helping mode” differs enormously of what I understand by it, and not only in the evaluation of war, in this paragraph I will abstain from summarizing deMause’s posture on the apex of psychogenic development, barely visible in the graph.
Even though deMause rejects homosexuality, he seems to support the feminist revolution in sexual matters. Conversely, I believe this entails the catastrophic demographic crisis for that psychoclass, as we will see in the third section, where I disclose my views of what the helping mode of childrearing ought to be. Suffice it to say in this chapter that the old platitude, “No hay que confundir la libertad con el libertinaje” (“Liberty should not be confused with licentiousness”), that I heard so many times as a teen and that by then I felt it antiquated, has surprisingly come to life again in the face of today’s demographic and migratory crisis in the West (once more, subjects for the third section).
It is important to reiterate that all of these family forms of childrearing coexist in the twenty-first century, and that the most primitive psychoclasses have coexisted with the most advanced ones. Apparently incomprehensible conduct, like the immolation of Islamic terrorists or the caste system in India, ultimately has its roots in differences in childrearing. Even in the most advanced countries there are families that belong to the most primitive psychoclass: which explains the existence from psychoses to serial killing. And in these advanced societies barbaric actions, analogous to trepanations in the Ancient World, are still perpetrated. We should never forget what I wrote in the second book about lobotomist Walter Freeman, who, traveling from state to state, performed thousands of leucotomies on children upon their parents’ request. (If I would be given a choice of either being sacrificed in the Tezcoco lake in Aztec times or being leucotomized in twentieth-century America, I would chose that fate of the ancient Nahua child.) Conversely, in backward countries there may exist some far less abusive families than the most regressive Western families. The notion of psychoclass, therefore, has to be understood in percentages: in the majorities of a given population, and proportions.
Nonetheless, there is by and large an obvious superiority in the West. It is the most advanced sector psychogenically. How was then that my mother treated me in a far more regressive way than the average mother of our social strata [the subject of my first book]? Precisely for the reason discussed above: the coexistence of all psychoclasses in the same nation. My mother not only tried to “socialize” the individualist I was through a medieval school, but behaved “ambivalently” and “intrusively” as well. There even was an “infanticidal” dose in her behavior taking into account that some children, whose parents forced psychiatric drugs on them, have died as a result of the licit drug. [I refer to the millions of sane children who are being medicated with Ritalin and other drugs for their dislike of traditional schooling — cf. my web page.] In my very particular case, as a result of my long mourn about what my parents inflicted upon me I do not suffer from psychiatric disorders. However, the majority of children that have had parents like my own did not run with the same luck.
The following table shows how a particular kind of childrearing is related to a specific mental disorder. My intention in copying the entire table, with deMause’s permission (slightly modified: the original table can be seen here ) is to show the bones of his model: bones onto which I will be adding the flesh in the following chapters.
The seven historical personalities
|Schizoid||Shaman||Devours, seduces abandons child||To animal spirits (alter egos)|
|Narcissist||King/hero||Punishes the child||To anthropomorphic alter gods|
|Masochist||Martyr||Abandons the loving child||Self-torture|
|Borderline||Vassal||Dominates and beats the child||Subservient clinging|
|Depressive||Holy warrior||Disciplines the obedient child||Obeying|
|Neurotic||Patriot||Manipulates the child||Incomplete separation|
|Individuated||Activist||Trusts, loves child||No sacrifice of the real self|
A more detailed exposition of the diverse childrearing modes appears in the articles of History of Childhood.* It is worth a reminder that the point of view of these more conventional historians is not always in agreement with the radical model of deMause.
|1.||“The Evolution of Childhood” (Lloyd deMause)|
|2.||“Barbarism and Religion: Late Roman and Early Medieval Childhood” (Richard B. Lyman, Jr.)|
|3.||“Survivors and Surrogates: Children and Parents from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries” (Mary Martin McLaughlin)|
|4.||“The Middle-Class Child in Urban Italy, Fourteenth to Early Sixteenth Century” (James Bruce Ross)|
|5.||“The Child as Beginning and End: Fifteenth and Sixteenth Century English Childhood” (M. J. Tucker)|
|6.||“Nature versus Nature: Patterns and Trends in Seventeenth-Century French Child-Rearing” (Elizabeth Wirth Marvick)|
|7.||“Child-Rearing in Seventeenth-Century England and America” (Joseph E. Illick)|
|8.||“A Period of Ambivalence: Eighteenth-Century American Childhood” (John F. Walzer)|
|9.||“‘That Enemy Is the Baby’: Childhood in Imperial Russia” (Patrick P. Dunn), and|
|10.||“Home as a Nest: Middle Class Childhood in Nineteenth-Century Europe” (Priscilla Robertson).|
The Return of Quetzalcoatl
- Preface: A Taste of the Flavor of the Whole Book
- Chapter 1: A Class with Colin Ross
- Chapter 2: The History of Childhood and its Newton
- Chapter 3: Periodization of Parental-filial Relations
- Julian Jaynes and the Bicameral Mind
©2008 César Tort