FOR YOUR OWN GOOD - Alice Miller
7 [Pages 23-32 in the print edition]

Finally, it will be useful to call to mind the dubious and transitory nature of merely material things by occasionally pointing out appropriate illustrations of this: the sight of a youthful corpse or the report of the collapse of a commercial house has a more humbling effect than often repeated warnings and censure. [K. G. Hergang, ed., Päedagogische Realenzyklopäedie (Encyclopedia of Pedagogy), 1851, quoted in Rutschky]

Feigning friendliness helps even more to conceal this type of cruel treatment:

When I once asked a schoolmaster how he had been able to bring it about that the children obeyed him without being whipped, he replied: I attempt to persuade my pupils by my entire demeanor that I mean well by them, and I demonstrate to them through example and illustration that it is to their disadvantage if they do not obey me. Further, I reward the one who is the most amenable, the most obedient, the most diligent in his lessons by preferring him over the other; I call on him the most, I permit him to read his composition before the class, I let him do the necessary writing on the blackboard. This way I awaken the children's zeal so that each wishes to excel, to be preferred. When one of them then upon occasion does something that deserves punishment, I reduce his status in the class, I don't call on him, I don't let him read aloud, I act as though he were not there. This distresses the children so much that those who are punished weep copious tears. If there is upon occasion someone who cannot be educated by such gentle means, then, to be sure, I must whip him; however, for the execution thereof I first make such lengthy preparations that he is more affected by them than by the lashes themselves. I do not whip him at that moment when he earns the punishment but postpone it until the following day or the day thereafter. This provides me with two advantages: first, my blood cools down in the meantime, and I have leisure to consider how best to go about the matter; later, the little delinquent will feel punishment tenfold more sharply because he has had to devote constant thought to it.

When the day of reckoning arrives, directly after the morning prayer I make a pathetic address to all the children and tell them this is a very sad day for me since the disobedience of one of my dear pupils has imposed on me the necessity of whipping him. The tears begin to flow, not only his who is to be chastised but also those of his fellow pupils. After this lecture is over, I bid the children be seated and I begin the lesson. Not until school is over do I have the little sinner step forward; I then pronounce my verdict and ask him if he knows what he has done to deserve it. After he has given a proper answer, I administer the lashes in the presence of all the children, turn to the spectators and tell them it is my heartfelt desire that this may be the last time I am constrained to whip a child. [C. G. Salzman (1796), quoted in Rutschky]

For purposes of self-protection, it is only the adults' friendly manner that remains in the child's memory, accompanied by a predictable submissiveness on the part of "the little transgressor" and the loss of his capacity for spontaneous feeling.

Fortunate are those parents and teachers who have educated their children so wisely that their counsel is as forceful as a command, that they seldom have cause to mete out an actual punishment, and that even in these few cases such methods as withdrawing certain pleasant but dispensable things, banishing the children from one's presence, recounting their disobedience to persons whose approbation they desire, etc., are feared as the harshest punishment. Yet few parents are so fortunate. Most of them must occasionally resort to more severe measures. But if they want to instill geniune obedience in their children by so doing, both their miens and words during the chastisement must be serious but not cruel or hostile.

One should be composed and serious, announce the punishment, carry it out, and say nothing more until the act is completed and the little transgressor is once again ready to accept counsel and commands....

If after the chastisement the pain lasts for a time, it is unnatural to forbid weeping and groaning at once. But if the chastised use these annoying sounds as a means of revenge, then the first step is to distract them by assigning little tasks or activities. If this does not help, it is permissible to forbid the weeping and to punish them if it persists, until it finally ceases after the new chastisement. [J. B. Basedow, Methodenbuch fur Väter und Mütter der Familien und Völker (Handbook for Fathers and mothers of Families and Nations), 1773, quoted in Rutschky]

Crying as a natural reaction to pain is suppressed here by means of renewed beating. To suppress feelings, various techniques may be used:

Now let us see how exercises can aid in the complete suppression of affect. Those who know the strength of a deep-seated habit also know that self-control and perseverance are required in order to break it. Affects can be regarded in the same category as deep-rooted habits. The more persevering and patient one's disposition in general, the more efficient it is in specific cases in overcoming an inclination or bad habit. Thus, all exercises that teach children self-control, that make them patient and persevering, aid in the suppression of inclinations. For this reason, all exercises of this sort deserve special attention in the education of children and are to be regarded as one of its most important elements even though they are almost universally ignored.

There are many such exercises and they can be presented in such a way that children gladly submit to them; you need only know the correct manner of approaching the children and choose a time when they are in a good humor. An example of such an exercise is keeping silent. Ask a child: Do you think you could remain silent for a few hours sometime, without saying a word? Make it pleasurable for him to make the attempt, until he eventually passes the test. Afterwards spare nothing in persuading him that it is an accomplishment to practice such self-control. Repeat the exercise, making it more difficult each time, partly by lengthening the period of silence, partly by giving him cause to speak or by depriving him of something. Continue these exercises until you see that the child has attained a degree of skill therein. Then entrust him with secrets and see if he can be silent even then. If he reaches the point of being able to restrain his tongue, then he is also capable of other things, and the honor attained thereby will encourage him to undertake other tests. One such test is to go without certain things one loves. Children especially love the pleasures of the senses. One must occasionally test whether they can control themselves in this regard. Give them fine fruits and when they reach for them, put them to the test. Could you bring yourself to save this fruit until tomorrow? Could you make someone a present of it? Proceed as I have just instructed in connection with keeping silent. Children love movement. They do not like to keep still. Train them here as well to learn self-control. Also put their bodies to the test insofar as their health permits: let them go hungry and thirsty, bear heat and cold, perform difficult labors, but see that this occurs with their acquiescence; force must not be applied or these exercises will lose their efficacy. I promise you that they will give children brave, persevering, and patient dispositions that will later be all the more efficient in suppressing evil inclinations. Let us take the case of a child who prattles, very often talking for no reason at all. This habit can be broken by the following exercise. After you have thoroughly explained his misbehavior to the child, say: "Now let us test whether you can stop prattling. I shall see how many times you speak today without thinking first." Then one pays careful heed to everything he says, and when he prattles, one makes clear that he is in error and makes note of how many times this has happened in one day. The following day, say to him: "Yesterday you prattled so and so many times. Now let us see how many times you will be in error today." And one continues in this manner. If the child still has any sense of honor and good instincts, he will be sure to forsake his error little by little in this way.

Along with these general exercises, one must also undertake special ones that are directly aimed at restraining affect, but these must not be tried until the above mentioned methods have first been used. A single example can stand for all the rest, because I must pull in my sails a little in order not to go on at too great length. Let us assume a child is vindictive and your methods have brought him to the point of being inclined to suppress this passion. After he has promised to do so, put him to the test in the following manner: tell him you intend to put his perserverance in controlling this passion to the test; admonish him to be on his guard and to be watchful for the first attacks of the enemy. Then secretly order someone to give the child an undeserved reproof when he is not expecting it so that you can see how he will behave. If he succeeds in self-control then you must praise his accomplishment and cause him to perceive as much as possible the satisfaction proceeding from self-control. Later, one must repeat the same test. If he cannot pass it, one must punish him lovingly and admonish him to behave better another time. One need not be severe with him. Where there are many children, one must hold up as examples to the others those who have done well in the test.

One must help the children as much as possible with these tests. One must teach them how to be on their guard. One must make them take as much pleasure as possible in the process so that they are not intimidated by the difficulties. For it should be mentioned that if the children do not take pleasure in these tests, all will be in vain. So much for the exercises. [Sulzer, quoted in Rutschky]

The results of this struggle against strong emotions are so disastrous because the suppression begins in infancy, i.e., before the child's self has had a chance to develop.

Another rule with very important consequences: Even the child's permissible desires should always be satisfied only if the child is in an amiable or at least calm mood but never while he is crying or behaving in an unruly fashion. First he must have regained his composure even if his previous behavior has been caused, for example, by his legitimate and periodic need to be fed--only then, after a brief pause, should one grant the child's wish. This interval is necessary because the child must not be given even the slightest impression that anything can be won by crying or by unruly behavior. On the contrary, the child perceives very quickly that he will reach his goal only by means of the opposite sort of behavior, by self-control (albeit still unconscious). A good, sound habit can be formed with incredible swiftness (as, on the other hand, can its contrary). Much will have been gained by this, for a good foundation has an infinite number of far-reaching consequences for the future. Here again, however, it is clear how infeasible are these and all similar principles--which must be regarded as of the utmost importance --if, as is usually the case, children of this age are entrusted almost exlusively to domestics, who rarely have the requisite understanding, at least in these matters.

The training just described will give the child a substantial head start in the art of waiting and will prepare him for another, more important one: the art of self-denial. After what has been said, it can be taken almost for granted that every impermissible desire, be it to the child's own disadvantage or not, must be met with an unfailingly consistent and absolute refusal. Refusal alone, however, is not enough. One must at the same time see to it that the child accepts the refusal calmly; one must take care that this calm acceptance becomes a sound habit, if need be by making use of a harsh word, a threatening gesture, and the like. Be sure not to make any exceptions!--then this too will take place much more easily and quickly than one thinks possible. Every exception of course invalidates the rule, both prolonging the training and making it more difficult.--On the other hand, accede to the child's every permissible desire lovingly and gladly.

Only in this way can one aid the child in the salutary and indispensable process of learning to subordinate and control his will, to distinguish for himself the difference between what is permissible and what is not. This cannot be done by anxiously removing everything that arouses impermissible desires. The foundation for the requisite spiritual strength must be laid at an early age, and it--like every other kind of strength--can be increased only through practice. If one waits until later to begin, then success will be much more difficult to attain, and the child, who has had no preparation for this, will become bitter in his disposition.

A very good exercise in the art of self-denial, appropriate for this age, is to give the child frequent opportunity to learn to watch other people in his immediate vicinity eating and drinking without desiring the same for himself. [D. G. M. Schreber (1858), quoted in Rutschky]

Thus, the child is supposed to learn "self-renunciation" from the the very beginning, to destroy as early as possible everything in himself that is not "pleasing to God":

True love flows from the heart of God, the source and image of all fatherhood (Ephesians 3:15), is revealed and prefigured in the love of the Redeemer, and is engendered, nourished, and preserved in man by the Spirit of Christ. This love emanating from above purifies, sanctifies, transfigures, and strengthens natural parental love. This hallowed love has as its primary goal the growth of the child's interior self, his spiritual life, his liberation from the power of the flesh, his elevation above the demands of the merely natural life of the senses, his inner independence from the world threatening to engulf him. Therefore, this love is concerned that the child learn at an early age to renounce, control, and master himself, that he not blindly follow the promptings of the flesh and the senses but rather the higher will and the promptings of the spirit. This hallowed love can thus be severe even as it can be mild, can deny even as it can bestow, each according to its time; it also knows how to bring good by causing hurt, it can impose harsh renunciation like a physician who prescribes bitter medicine, like a surgeon who knows very well that the cut of his knife will cause pain and yet cuts in order to save a life. "Thou shalt beat him [the child] with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:14). With these words, Solomon reveals to us that true love can also be severe. This is not the kind of stoic or narrowly legalistic severity that is full of self-satisfaction and would rather sacrifice its charge than ever deviate from its principles; no, however severe, it always lets its tender concern shine through, like the sun through the clouds, in a spirit of friendliness, compassion, and patient hope. For all its steadfast- ness, it is yet yielding and always knows what it does and why. [K. A. Schmid, ed., Enzyklopädie des gesamten Erziehungs- und Unterrichtswesens (A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Education and Instruction), 1887, quoted in Rutschky]

It is a foregone conclusion exactly which feelings are good and valuable for the child (or the adult) and which are not; exuberance, actually a sign of strength, is assigned to the latter category and consequently attacked:

One of the traits in children that border on abnormality is exuberance, which can take many forms but usually begins with exceptionally agitated activity of the voluntary muscles, followed to a greater or lesser degree by other manifestations, should an aroused desire not be immediately satisfied. Children who are just beginning to learn to talk and whose dexterity is still limited to reaching for nearby objects need only be unable

to grasp an object or not be allowed to keep it; if they have a tendency toward an excitable disposition, they will then start to scream and make unrestrained movements. Malice develops quite naturally in this child, for whom feelings are no longer subject to the general laws of pleasure and pain but have degenerated from their natural state to such an extent that the child not only loses all capacity for sympathy but evinces pleasure in the discomfort and pain of others. A child's ever- growing discomfort at the loss of the pleasure he would have had if his wishes had been granted eventually finds satisfaction only in revenge, i.e., in the comforting knowledge that his peers have been subjected to the same feeling of discomfort or pain. The more often the child experiences the comforting feeling of revenge, the more this becomes a need, which seeks satisfaction at every idle moment. In this stage, the child uses unruly behavior to inflict every possible unpleasantness, every conceivable annoyance, on others, only for the sake of alleviating the pain he feels because his wishes are not being fulfilled. This fault leads with logical consistency to the next; his fear of punishment awakens the need to tell lies, to be devious and deceitful, to use these stratagems that require only some practice in order to be successful. The irresistible desire to be malicious gradually develops in the same way, as does the penchant for stealing, kleptomania. Willfulness also appears as a secondary but no less serious consequence of the original fault.

...Mothers, who are ordinarily entrusted with their children's education, very rarely know how to deal with unruly behavior successfully.

...As in the case of all illnesses that are difficult to cure, so too, in the case of the psychic fault of exuberance, the greatest care must be devoted to prophylaxis, to prevention of the disorder. The best way for an education to reach this goal is by adhering unswervingly to the principle of shielding the child as much as possible from all influences that might stimulate feelings, be they pleasant or painful. [S. Landmann, Über den Kinderfehler der Heftigkeit (On the Character Fault of Exuberance in Children), 1896, quoted in Rutschky]

Significantly, cause and effect are confused here and what is attacked as a cause is something that the pedagogues have themselves brought about. This is the case not only in pedagogy but in psychiatry and criminology as well. Once "wickedness" has been produced in a child by suppressing vitality, any measure taken to stamp it out is justified:

...In school, discipline precedes the actual teaching. There is no sounder pedagogical axiom than the one that children must first be trained before they can be taught. There can be discipline without instruction, as we have seen above, but no instruction without discipline.

We insist therefore that learning in and of itself is not discipline, is not a moral endeavor, but discipline is an essential part of learning.

This must be kept in mind when administering discipline. Discipline is, as stated above, not primarily words but deeds; if presented in words, it is not instruction but commands.

...It proceeds from this that discipline, as the Old Testament word indicates, is basically chastisement (musar). The perverse will, which to its own and other's detriment is not in command of itself, must be broken. Discipline is, as Schleiermacher puts it, life-inhibiting, is at the very least curtailment of vital activity insofar as the latter cannot develop as it wishes but is confined within specific limits and subjected to specific rules. Depending on the circumstances, however, it can also mean restraint; in other words, partial suppression of enjoyment, of the joy of living. This can be true even on a spiritual level: for example, the member of a church congregation can be deprived temporarily of the highest possible enjoyment, the enjoyment of Holy Communion, until he has regained his religious resolve. A consideration of the idea of punishment reveals that, in the task of education, healthy discipline must always include corporal punishment. Its early and firm but sparing application is the very basis of all genuine discipline because it is the power of the flesh that needs most to be broken....

Where human authorities are no longer capable of maintaining discipline, divine authority steps in forcibly and bows down both individuals and nations under the insufferable yoke of their own wickedness. [Enzyklopädie...quoted in Rutschky]

Schleiermacher's "inhibition of life" is openly avowed here and extolled as a virtue. But, like many moralists, the author overlooks the fact that warm and genuine feelings are unable to grow without the vital soil of "exuberance."

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