THE CHILDREN OF THE DREAM by Bruno Bettelheim

THE CHILDREN OF THE DREAM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Child rearing in a kibbutz is wildly different from Western society methods. Babies are moved to infants houses four days after delivery and spend the rest of their youth with peer groups living in toddlers', childrens' and youth houses. They see their natural parents at certain times a day but otherwise are supervised by a variety of ""metapelets"" or caretakers. Bettelheim, fascinated by his own experience with institutionalized children and suspicious that the professional accounts of kibbutz child rearing were prejudiced by Western attitudes towards non-parental upbringing, studied a particular kibbutz in the summer of 1964, taping interviews, filming, conducting seminars. He concludes that the radical methods worked pragmatically: the founders of the kibbutzim--who had fled Europe and the ghetto and their own psychological family handicaps--succeeded in raising a generation radically different in personality. On the positive side, this generation was altruistic, dedicated to the kibbutz, and to each other. There were no signs of decadence and sexual deviation. But the price was a flattening of personality. There may be little overt neurosis but there is a loss of intimacy and individuality. Dr. Bettelheim's observations, based as they are on a comparatively short stay, may be questioned along with his basic approach (the psychoanalytical point of view, the developmental psychology of Erik Erikson, the sociology of David Riesman). However the study, along with his comparisons with middle and lower class child-parent relationships in America, is very welcome. It is also the only popular account of an experiment in living to which critics gave little hope for survival three generations ago.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1969
ISBN: 0743217950
Publisher: Macmillan