Author: Hubbard, L. R.
Document date: 1950, 15 July
Document title: Processing Children
Document type: lecture transcript
Event: Professional Course
Location: Elizabeth, New Jersey
Document ID: 5007C15A
Description: Hubbard discusses the stages of psychological development in children;talks about punishment as the quickest way to make children antisocial.
In the early years a child’s mind is not completely formed physiologically. It is still growing. You see evidences of this in a certain lack of concentration which is not engramic and in their lack of ability to handle themselves physically.
Something else which is not physiological enters in as a very important datum. The child has a limited supply of data. Therefore, his ability to relate what he discovers to his own reality is limited. One must recognize that this lack of data first manifests itself in overuse of the imagination.
The mind is constructed to supply with imagination what it lacks in information. If this is interrupted by some uninformed person such as in psychoanalysis, where all is delusion and so on, or by mothers who say, “That’s your imagination, you had better be careful about using your imagination,” one gets the worst case of childhood dementia.
The brain has to have imagination. If it doesn’t have imagination, it cannot make from a few isolated data any conclusion. It has to fill in the gaps. Further, if one had no imagination or his imagination was not in its fullest play, he could not make an accurate prediction of tomorrow. Imagination is a fine predictor mechanism. That is probably its basic purpose. If one wants to upset a person about the future, take from him his ability to use his imagination.
In treating children, the auditor is going to find the problem of imagination very acute in many cases. The child has come into the world, has looked around at a bunch of sour-faced adults for a while, has a few data and has tried zestfully to recompose this data into something which looks to him like a logical picture.
A dinosaur romping down Hollywood Boulevard could be a perfectly logical picture to a child, but the adult comes along and says scornfully, “Oh, that’s all in your imagination. You shouldn’t use your imagination.”
As one treats children, one gets a beautiful cross-index of the adult world. It is stupid. I have never failed to remark on this in treating a child. Usually the child is quite bright when he first comes into the world, with an acute sense of what is real and what isn’t. He will try to tell adults jokes, and he has a very playful look toward life. But the adult says, “Oh, no, that isn’t so.” I imagine that many a child feels like a comedian who is talking to a house that is absolutely flat.
The social aberration is that there are several ages of human being. The first is the age of protoplasm where there is no life, no feeling; no sensitivity up to birth. It is simply protoplasm and that is that.
The next age begins magically at the moment the umbilical cord is cut. This is “Oh, you dear, sweet, cute little thing, you.” And this means the child is very sweet, quite pure, quite innocent, and all in all a very wonder of a thing, but not a human being of course.
The next stage of childhood is when a child is unlucky enough to try to learn language from people who don’t know language. This is the post-speech period of childhood which is very trying. The child discovers here the social aberrations in full force. He wants to know what such-and-such a word means. He finds out merely by uttering this word that people fly off at tangents, look at him scornfully, stand him in a corner and so forth. But he can say “cornflakes” and nobody does anything to him, which gives undue emphasis to language. So he gets punished because of language, and language becomes very dangerous stuff to him.
But he is still cute and people can still bear with him because he is dependent. Dependency has a high value in the society. It has such a high value that today people in Washington are willing to sell out the whole United States and all of its philosophies and past glories for the great privilege of being depended upon by the mass of the populace.
During the Thirties, people in Washington were avidly creating indigency. The WPA was no effort to rehabilitate the self-respect of an individual, it was an effort to coax his dependency into being so that somebody could look smart and important.
In the very small family scene you will find out that the child is made into something with which to bolster the ego. People keep dogs for the same reason. I have seen children that the parents had mistaken for army privates, or for sailors in the navy. I have seen children who have been mistaken for almost anything that would act as a sop to the engrams of the adults.
But seldom have I ever seen a child taken for a child. It doesn’t occur to people that the child is a live, living, thinking organism possessed initially of enormous self-determinism. It is the first goal of the normal adult in this society to break utterly and forever, if possible, the self-determinism of the child.
I have become convinced of this by listening to the cant that goes on, “Elders know best. You must do this. Now just mind.” I will admit that a child is noisy and that a child breaks things; or a child because of lack of data and coordination may be a bit trying on those who have a blocked second dynamic. But I have found the following to be the case: Any child who was engaged in breaking things, in being bad, was in a high state of revolt which would not admit of an immediate surrender to anything save heavy corporal punishment.
We have the reverse of this in what is laughingly called modern psychology–laughingly called because this is the most insidious undermining influence on children that I know of. In the first place a child has to have a goal. There are many ways to handle a child, and certainly a child has to fit in as a social unit in a family as soon as possible. The quickest way to make a child an antisocial unit is to punish him. The pain-drive theory always adds up into an antisocial state.
Hubbard, L. R. (1950, 15 July). Processing Children. Professional Course, (5007C15A). Lecture conducted from Elizabeth, New Jersey.