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Verfassung der Endversion:

DeMause refers to his approach as a psychogenetic theory of history. The central driving force of historical change is neither seen in technology nor economics, but in the psyhogenetic changes in the personality or in the make-up of the character which result from the interaction of parents and children throughout the generations. His theory is grounded on the following five basic assumptions which, according to deMause, can all be either verified o falsified by empirical and historical evidence [...].

While I appreciate that deMause uses historical sources in order to support his psyhogenetic theory in which he tries to include actual cultural development, he unfortunately fails to acknowledge the interrelation between cultural and psychogenetic development. Historical phenomena only serve as verifications or falsifications of his psychogenetic theory. He explicitly declares that the evolution of the parent-child relationship is an independent source for historical change. Psychological change occurs independently from social an technological change. From my perspective, it does not seem very likely that the parents` ability to go back to the psychological age of a child and thus better understand their children`s fears, could constitute the driving force for psychological change in history.

DeMause perceives evolution as a continuous development, a development in the course of which parents become increasingly able to understand their children. This striking deficiency in deMause`s theory is revealed when the theory is applied to early modern times. If psychological change can be explained by improvement in childhood conditions, how is it possible that, during the witch persecutions, childhood conditions did not undergo a similar positive development but rather the contrary? Can the sending-away of the children in the era of ambivalence, as deMause characterises the early modern times, in fact be traced back to a better understanding of the parents of former generations? Is it possible to come to an understanding of culture by considering child-rearing practices alone? Should we not instead understand these practices in their psychodynamic function for supporting the adjustment to the respective society?

In order to understand the relation between psychological development and culture, one has to turn again to ethnology in particular to ethno-psychoanalysis. Ethno-psychoanalysis examines the individual`s conscious and unconscious conflicts within the respective culture. The foreign culture is not regarded as more mature or more highly developed than another culture, and the tendency inherent in the concept of evolution to degrade previous generations is not adopted. Unconscious conflicts caused by culture are regarded as functional for this particular culture, that is, as an unconscious process of adaptation.


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