THE AUTHENTIC CHILD by Alan de Witt Button


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To clarify the somewhat crippling title, the authentic child is the one whose self-image is unimpaired (this book is both a reduction and an extension of Erik Erikson's identity theme). Mr. Button, a clinical psychologist, anti all rigid systems from Watson to Skinner with psychoanalysis in between, offers no ""specific guidelines"" although intoning throughout the values of freedom, choice, spontaneity, involvement and above all love. Words everyone will accept if few will achieve. The only decision is the ""brave"" one the individual reaches himself (existentially--and it will be the best one for that particular person); dread often distorts it; so may the deadfalls underlying reason; so will paradoxical (I/thou) practices; so may the contingencies (death; divorce); or punitive actions which are dangerous and distorting; or the institutions (churches and schools take a drubbing). Sometimes, perhaps necessarily, Mr. Button is murkier on the pathologies (or the severely disturbed); sometimes this anti-Freudian leaves the reader in the limbo of an arbitrary generalization (""the hidden agenda of sexual hangup"" is responsible for most divorces, suicides, mental illnesses, etc.). But for the most part this developmental, liberating approach to your children and yourself (cf. in particular the very good chapter ""The Stranger in the Supermarket"") represents a position--a view--with which no one can argue; the book is apposite, aware, convincing and all thoughtful readers will be castigated and stimulated to their benefit.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1969
Publisher: Random House