The Personality of the Preschool Child: The Child's Search for His Self

The Personality of the Preschool Child: The Child's Search for His Self

The Personality of the Preschool Child: The Child's Search for His Self

The Personality of the Preschool Child: The Child's Search for His Self

Excerpt

The Personality of the Preschool Child is an important and creative contribution to the rapidly growing science of child development. Dr. Werner Wolff is one of the first psychologists to consider child behavior and child expression from the point of view of the dynamics of personality during the foundation years in which the self is becoming differentiated. His unifying concepts, first "that all expressions of personality by the young child seem to be varieties on one theme: the child's search for his self" and second, "the recognition of two worlds in which the young child and adult live isolated from each other," are suggestive and stimulating. Even those who disagree with certain of Dr. Wolff's formulations or his interpretations of specific items of behavior will be deeply indebted to him for carrying his important pioneer work on "experimental depth psychology" into the study of child personality.

One point made by Dr. Wolff on a controversial subject seems particularly worthy of mention in view of rather widespread current confusion, especially among educators and parents. It also has important implications for our understanding of children's aggressions and fears. In discussing the fairy tale and "the Integration of Fairy Tales into the Orbit of Experiences" Dr. Wolff states, "We believe that the structure of the fairy tale is of the same kind as are the imaginings of a child who has never heard a fairy tale. Fairy tale and the child's autonomous thinking originate in a similar psychic level." The author presents convincing evidence from the rich and varied data made available to him for study and analysis that "any fantasy of the child, even if derived from stories heard, leads us into the child's personality." In this and many other ways the reader's attention is continually directed to the meaning for the child of his particular symbols or forms of expression.

No one who carefully reads Dr. Wolff's reconstruction of the inner world of childhood and the search for the self can continue to ignore or deprecate what have traditionally been considered the . . .

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