SEX AND IDENTITY by Hedy Porteous

SEX AND IDENTITY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Parents with a behaviorist orientation or those left with the overlapping dicta of Spock, Ginott, Bettelheim and Montessori may be baffled by Dr. Porteous' unabashed Freudian emphasis in this analysis of child growth based on sexual identifications and prescription for healthy child rearing. Dr. Porteous, founder of a child guidance clinic in Israel and now a counselor for both ""normal"" and problem children in England, has studied hundreds of children's drawings for symbolic content and, firmly adhering to Freudian schema, not surprisingly concludes that children identify with objects fundamentally in sexual terms and that ""at the back of the entire process of character formation is the sexual endowment of the boy or the girl."" Love makes demands the child cannot accept without guilt, and ""hate"" (destructiveness, aggression, resistance) precedes the expression of love. She further argues that a balance can be achieved by recognizing and accepting ""hate"" (her definition is controversial). Dr. Porteous' therapy -- she includes a number of case histories -- involves the child's releasing and accepting aggressions which most parents suppress. Her children punch dolls, heave darts, etc. The present uni-sex trend is not healthy since it restrains those enormous sexual impulses observable even in early childhood -- the ""godlike ambitions"" of the boy, the ""fertile"" attractions of the girl. It all seems long ago and far away.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill