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The Sexual Enlightenment Of Children” Essay, Research Paper
Intro to Psychology
A review of “The Sexual Enlightenment of Children”
by Sigmud Freud
“The Sexual Enlightenment of Children” is an open
letter written by Dr. Sigmund Freud to M. Furst, editor
of Soziale Medizin und Hygiene. It deals with the ways
that children learn about sexuality and how them
learning it the wrong way could possibly scare them for
the rest of there lives. He does this by using examples
for his own work and the work of other psychologists
dealing with the sexual development of young people.
Freud opens the letter by letting Furst know that
when asked this question he took it as wanting the
opinion of one doctor who could base his opinion on his
work and not as someone using the large amount of
literature that had become available. As a whole Freud
feels that children should not be left in the dark about
sex and sexual feelings. He says “To My mind it seems
that certain things are altogether too much wrapped in
mystery.” By this he means that children should be
completely free to develop at there own pace. He says
that if children are not told this they will find other
ways of getting the information such as other children
or books. Also he states that it is improbable to think
that sexual desires will not develop in a child if the
are not stirred by any outside source.
Freud believes that children bring a certain amount
of sexual instinct in to the world with them when they
are born. He say, “It is commonly believed that the
sexual instinct is lacking in children, and only begins
to arise when the sexual organs mature.” Freud claims
that various parts of our body are “erotogenis zones”
and it is only after they develop that the genitals
become the supreme ones.
Freud sighted one example of how a child should be
treated in this area. A young boy by the name of Herbert
who has very intelligent parents. They never tried to
repress his development as a sexual being. What he began
to refer to his private part as his “wee-wee maker” his
parents never once told him that things like that were
not spoke of in public. They did this to show him that
sexual activity is not a bad thing.
Freud stated several times that one thing that
should never be done is to let your child think that sex
is a dirty thing. This will only cause the child to have
problems later in life that may be irreversible. He
sighted yet another example from his work that shows how
a person can be scared by things such as this. A young
girl by the name of Lily wrote a letter to her Aunt Mali
on behalf of her and her playmates. Lily asked Aunt Mali
where babies came from. The girls had all sorts of
ideas, but they wanted to know the truth and Aunt Mali
was the only on they could turn to for such a question.
Freud highly doubts that Lily got the correct answer.
Lily later developed the neurosis that comes from
“unanswered unconscious questions-obsessive
speculating.” Freud said about this “… they whisper
confidences to each other which, because of the sense of
guilt in the childhood inquirers, stamp everything
sexual as horrible and disgusting”
Freud feels that sex should be treated just like
everything else in the world. It shouldn’t be kept from
children. He thinks that even in schools children should
be taught the different animals in the animal kingdom
reproduce. He says that a child would be much better
off if the were well guided on the subject and not just
let go to find what they will for the world. Most of
all I think he is saying that sex should not be kept a
In some cases I feel that Freud is right on with
his ideas. I also think that some of his ideas don’t hit
anywhere near the mark for the modern society we live in
today. For example, I believe that children shouldn’t
be left completely in the dark about things of a sexual
nature. All children develop at different speeds and
some might not be quite ready for this kind of
information if it was taught in school at a certain
grade level. I best way that I can see to deal with
this is for parents to love there children and never let
then think that the can’t ask then questions about
anything. The parents then have to be ready to answer
any question that the child might have.
I the case sighted above concerning the little
girl who wanted to know where babies come from, I think
that there is probably more to the story the what was
stated in the essay. I don’t believe that a child being
denied the facts about where babies come from would
cause her to develop such a disorder. I can’t be sure
about this because I do lack the amount of knowledge
that is required to diagnosis a person or ascertain how
the disorder was caused.
The story of the small boy who ran around all of
the time talking about his “wee-wee maker” struck me as
somewhat comical. I really don’t see any reason to let a
child run about say thingssuch as this. If a child isn’t
taught that decorum doesn’t permit certain things in
certain places then they will never learn.
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