Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1950, 8 November
Document title: Child Dianetics Part I
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: Professional Course
Location: Elizabeth, New Jersey
Document ID: 5011C08
Description: Hubbard talks about a very rebellious four-year-old boy, how he was ruined by punishment and how Ron transformed him into a good boy by threatening his punishers. Discusses a three year old boy whose illnesses, upset and regression was caused by child abuse and high emotional stress.
A case history is that of a little boy who was brought to me. This little boy was about 4 years of age and he was a bad boy. There was no doubt about it. How a boy 4 years of age could be as destructive as he was, I never could quite figure out. If he had been six feet tall, he would have given Genghis Khan a good run for his money. He would go upstairs and pull all of Mama’s clothes off their hangers in the closet onto the floor and then he would get a pair of scissors and cut them up. This would be a small act of the day. Or he would go into another room, preferably one which was very neat, and he would get a knife and slash the wallpaper and then tear it off the walls. Or somebody in the family would be eating cereal and he would take a cigarette and shred it over the top of the cereal. It also happened that he was extremely clumsy somehow and he seemed to be able to break any valuable piece of bric-a-brac in the house selectively. Anything that had any value would get broken. He was just naturally a bad boy and what he obviously needed was more discipline.
I looked into the amount of discipline this child had had and it amounted to about four spankings and a good swift kick in the skull every day. He was really disciplined! The discipline was not particularly inconsistent, because it did not matter what he did, he got punished. And furthermore, he had unanimity in the family. Papa agreed and punished him, Mama agreed and punished him, and the one grandparent that was around agreed and punished him. This left him a target for all hands.
I took one look at this child, looked into his eyes and saw there a red-hot rebel, a veritable Lenin in the community. And he was successfully making life so hellish for his own family that they were all almost crazy. He was a victorious rebel. He had them up to a point where nobody dared leave anything anywhere it could be reached; where if he started in on some program of destruction, they knew inevitably that it would get carried through. The child was leading a successful revolt.
The matter was solved rather simply. I made an announcement, since these people were not very tall people, and I said, “The next person who lays a hand on that child will be accountable to me, personally, and if the child tells me that anybody has spanked him or done anything to him of any kind whatsoever that he does not like, why, I will come over and I will beat that person’s skull in. If you don’t think I can do it, look at me.” They agreed with me; this was a new reality. And within 24 hours the child was a good boy.
About a week later, he put it to test. Somebody took a kick at him as he was going out of the door, so he came over and told me. I went over and told the person who had kicked him that if it happened again I would make sure they wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week. The person was very meek and apologized, and I went away. After that the child really got to be a good boy. He did the dishes. He picked up his own clothes. He didn’t break things anymore. He went out and played.
The primary purpose of life is to overcome an environment. It is the attack of little theta on big theta1, the attack of thought merging with matter and becoming life, attacking the environment. And when life has had set up to it an enormous obstacle, life will attack; and if that obstacle is extremely big and it carries physical pain with it, the attacks will become more and more savage and irrational.
So if you see some child who is accidentally breaking things, who has these odds and ends of disobediences and strange oversights, you can be very well aware of the fact that here is a child who has been badly badgered from some quarter or other. And the people who should have some processing there are the parents, not the child.
This might seem very odd until you take a square look at it yourself and go and look at a family who has a very bad boy or a sick boy or girl. This family, by the way, will offer to you the aspects of veritable saints. They will all be walking around with great glowing halos around their heads. No, they have never quarreled in the presence of this child; they have never punished this child; they have never upset anything. This child has always had the best of food and the best of care and had doctors every time he needed them and so forth. But don’t go into the late life bank of this child, because you will find that every single one of these so-called usual childhood illnesses which are so very savage and devastating on the constitution has been preceded by a very high emotional upset in the vicinity of that child—every one of them! (I could never find out why they are called “the usual childhood illnesses.” These things are murderous!)
If you want to check this, look over the prenatal and postnatal banks of people. In the prenatal bank you will find quarrels, upsets and so on, and postpartum you will find periods of illness of the child; and if you track it back two or three days before that period of illness, you will find a clue as to the conduct of the people in this person’s background. That is good detecting, because there is something there. There is a lost ally before a major illness, and there are quarrels and so on.
In one family which was the very model of propriety, the 3-year-old child in the family had been very ill with a combination of chicken pox and hives, which eventually passed over into pneumonia. I was interested to look over the general situation and find out that an obvious quarrel had taken place in the room where the child was ordinarily kept. The steel legs of his crib were freshly bent and had not yet had a chance to rust or gather dust in any way. What happened in there I don’t know. But I looked around and found out that one side of the wall, which was made of beaverboard, was dented in and the outline of three knuckles was imbedded in it. Yet this family appeared to live a model life.
This gives you an idea of what will happen to a child who is in an area of combat, high emotional stress and so on. You can check this by going back into your own preclears’ lives and you will find out that these big periods of illness, upset and regression are preceded by something on a family level.
Take any child and look the child over, and as you know the subject a little better you can read off the face and body of that child the kind of home life he has and the general type of activity engaged upon in his home. These children are not just walking advertisements, they are walking signboards, of the kind of families they come from. These little children who go around gimping on lame legs and so forth are walking advertisements of attempted abortions and so on. In other words, by their children you will know them. So when you start to treat children and you start looking them over, you will actually find yourself less able to help the children who are worse off, because they are in the most restimulative environment.2
- Big theta is the physical universe. Little theta is the individual. These were Hubbard’s early expressions of the microcosm and macrocosm, which would develop further into the Theta-MEST theory. Ref. Science of Survival and Scientology 8-8008 ↩
- From Hubbard’s self-affirmations ca. 1946:Your psychology is good. You worked to darken your own children. This failure, with them, was only apparent. The evident lack of effectiveness was “ordered.” The same psychology works perfectly on everyone else. You use it with great confidence. ↩