Synopses & Reviews
This edition of Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's definitive biography of pioneering child analyst Anna Freud includesamong other new featuresa major retrospective introduction by the author.
Praise for the Second Edition:
Young-Bruehls description of one of the most complex but brilliant lights in psychoanalytic history has stood as a beacon to students of psychoanalytic history. It is the best most carefully crafted biography of any psychoanalyst and it illuminates the entire tradition with a clarity that only the exploration of the life of the daughter of the founder of the movement could possibly provide. It is a beautifully written insightful and remarkably edifying piece of work. The best has just got better.”-- Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London
Praise for the First Edition:
A gem of biographical writing. . . .”Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune
Lucid, erudite, briskly authoritative, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl . . . has given us the insight into character that makes biography an art.”James Atlas
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl is a faculty member at the Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research and a practicing psychoanalyst in Manhattan. She lives in New York and Toronto.
"In this brilliant, provocative book, award-winning author and psychoanalyst Young-Bruehl (Hannah Arendt: For the Love of the World) exposes American society's prejudice against its children 'childism' and the harm it causes them. Analyzing the social and legal development of childism in the wake of the 1960s youth protest movements, the author urges us to think about the huge range of antisocial policies and individual behavior directed against all children daily, from corporal punishment and an uncaring foster care system to the pressure placed on children to support one parent or another in a divorce. To begin reversing childism, she points to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of the Child and a reinforcing convention on children's rights, which state that children have human rights, that they are not 'possessions' of adults, and that adults and governments have an obligation to children. The documents call for, among other things, reducing child poverty and providing every child with the means and the education to develop healthily and freely. It also advocates children's participation in familial and communal life to the extent of their evolving abilities. Painting a world where thousands of children die every day from neglect, hunger, and war, Young-Bruehl's book is a clarion call for urgent action." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"What would she be thinking, what would she be saying, right now, about all this? Thus do many of us, long bereft, find ourselves repeatedly pondering regarding the late, incomparably lucid and passionate Hannah Arendt. How unexpectedly lucky for us therefore becomes this book, this gift from Ms. Arendts passionately lucid biographer: a text, both clear and urgent, that comes astonishingly close to providing an answer. Grounding her analysis in a vividly concise summation of the entire arc of her subjects life-thought, its almost as if Young-Bruehl were channeling Arendt, right now, today, when we really need her."Lawrence Weschler, Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and author of Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences -- Paula Kane
'“Young-Bruehls description of one of the most complex but brilliant lights in psychoanalytic history has stood as a beacon to students of psychoanalytic history. It is the best most carefully crafted biography of any psychoanalyst and it illuminates the entire tradition with a clarity that only the exploration of the life of the daughter of the founder of the movement could possibly provide. It is a beautifully written insightful and remarkably edifying piece of work. The best has just got better.”Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London
-- Ira Katznelson'
'\"This book is still . . . the gold standard of biographies of thinkers in the psychoanalytic tradition and thus continues to merit a place among the best. . . . Libraries . . . will want this volume . . . required reading for those interested in . . . psychological thought and practices . . .\" Choice -- Peter Fonagy'
"Childism is an alarming analysis of the policies and behaviors that are so harmful to our children. Young-Bruehl's deeply humane insights should be required reading for policymakers and parents."—Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System
“What a brilliant testimony as to why childrens issues have taken so long to become of importance. Everyone who wants to change this, and I hope all professionals who are involved with families and children do, should read this work.”--T. Berry Brazelton, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus Harvard Medical School, and Founder, Brazelton Touchpoints Center, Childrens Hospital Boston
“By giving a name to the prejudice against children, Young-Bruehl makes it possible for us to see what is right before our eyes. Its not easy to speak about this prejudice—it comes too close to home—and yet Young-Bruehl does so in a way that is engaging, intelligent, humane, and enlightening. Read this book, and then give it to your partner, your friends, your representatives. This is something we can change.”—Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
“Elisabeth Young-Bruehl offers a profound and useful means by which educators, policymakers and parents can get a handle on the absence of strategy in the debate over the efficacy of public education. Childism calls for us to be more conscious in how children are treated, more thoughtful about how they are taught, and more courageous in how we lead the national discussion.”—Dr. Rudy Crew, professor, University of Southern Californias Rossier School of Education, and former chancellor of New York City public schools
“I am often struck by how children are not treated as people, not accorded equal status as humans, neglected, underestimated, and overlooked. And how that childism goes un-thought. It is a social, historical, and psychological phenomenon that is desperately in need of redress. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's timely and insightful Childism is a crucial step towards this goal.”—Ken Corbett, author of Boyhoods: Rethinking Masculinities
"This brilliant, provocative book . . . exposes American society’s prejudice against its children—'childism'—and the harm it causes them. . . . A clarion call for urgent action."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"[Childism] concludes with a clarion call for programs of parent education and abuse prevention, for expanded parenting support services, and for closer attention to childrens voices. . . Among the books key insights is that many behaviors that we dont think of as abuse are in fact abusive because they place parental needs above childrens developmental needs."—Steven Mintz, Washington Post
"This book has helped me, like nothing else I've read, to understand why it is so hard to get the kind of help for children that all the best science of our time is telling us they need. I hope everyone reads it. As Young-Breuhl states, 'prejudice has to be recognized in order to be overcome.'"—Claudia M. Gold, Child in Mind
"A road map for according our children their basic human rights. . . This is a terrific book, scholarly and persuasive, able to help as a guide."—Michael D. Langan, Buffalo News
"Childism is a significant achievement towards an understanding of the ways in which we, as a society, do not act in the best interests of our children."—Dominique Browning, Slowlovelife.com
"More than a study of child abuse, [Childism] excavates the psychological foundations of destructive attitudes toward children."—Peter Monaghan, Chronicle of Higher Education
"Shattering. . . You'll need an open mind and a willingness to consider that, for many of us, parenting is about the parents, not the kids. . . . Provocative."—Jesse Kornbluth, Huffington Post Blog
This highly acclaimed, prize-winning biography of one of the foremost political philosophers of the twentieth century is here reissued in a trade paperback edition for a new generation of readers. In a new preface the author offers an account of writings by and about Arendt that have appeared since the books 1982 publication, providing a reassessment of her subjects life and achievement.
Praise for the earlier edition:
Both a personal and an intellectual biography . . . It represents biography at its best.”Peter Berger, front page, The New York Times Book Review
A story of surprising drama . . . . At last, we can see Arendt whole.”Jim Miller, Newsweek
Indispensable to anyone interested in the life, the thought, or . . . the example of Hannah Arendt.”Mark Feeney, Boston Globe
An adventure story that moves from pre-Nazi Germany to fame in the United States, and . . . a study of the influences that shaped a sharp political awareness.”Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
Upon publication of her field manual,” The Origins of Totalitarianism
in 1951, Hannah Arendt immediately gained recognition as a major political analyst. Over the next twenty-five years, she wrote ten more books and developed a set of ideas that profoundly influenced the way America and Europe addressed the central questions and dilemmas of World War II. In this concise book, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl introduces her mentors work to twenty-first-century readers. Arendts ideas, as much today as in her own lifetime, illuminate those issues that perplex us, such as totalitarianism, terrorism, globalization, war, and radical evil.”
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, who was Arendts doctoral student in the early 1970s and who wrote the definitive biography of her mentor in 1982, now revisits Arendts major works and seminal ideas. Young-Bruehl considers what Arendts analysis of the totalitarianism of Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union can teach us about our own times, and how her revolutionary understanding of political action is connected to forgiveness and making promises for the future. The author also discusses The Life of the Mind, Arendts unfinished meditation on how to think about thinking. Placed in the context of todays political landscape, Arendts ideas take on a new immediacy and importance. They require our attention, Young-Bruehl shows, and continue to bring fresh truths to light.
A seminal volume on prejudice against children for parents, teachers, psychologists, social workers, policy-makers—anyone concerned with the crucial subject of child welfare.
In this groundbreaking volume on the human rights of children, acclaimed analyst, political theorist, and biographer Elisabeth Young-Bruehl argues that prejudice exists against children as a group and that it is comparable to racism, sexism, and homophobia. This prejudice—“childism”—legitimates and rationalizes a broad continuum of acts that are not “in the best interests of children,” including the often violent extreme of child abuse and neglect. According to Young-Bruehl, reform is possible only if we acknowledge this prejudice in its basic forms and address the motives and cultural forces that drive it, rather than dwell on the various categories of abuse and punishment.
“There will always be individuals and societies that turn on their children," writes Young-Bruehl, “breaking the natural order Aristotle described two and a half millennia ago in his Nichomachean Ethics." In Childism, Young-Bruehl focuses especially on the ways in which Americans have departed from the child-supportive trends of the Great Society and of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Many years in the making, Childism draws upon a wide range of sources, from the literary and philosophical to the legal and psychoanalytic. Woven into this extraordinary volume are case studies that illuminate the profound importance of listening to the victims who have so much to tell us about the visible and invisible ways in which childism is expressed.
About the Author
Why are you proposing that we need the word and concept “childism”?
The history of the word “sexism,” coined in 1965, shows how important it was to put under the same conceptual umbrella different acts, attitudes, and institutions that targeted women as a group. If you understand that domestic violence against women and wage discrimination against women are similarly rationalized or legitimated by a prejudice—sexism—you can develop ways to explore the prejudice and resist it. Without a synthesizing concept, you do not see that child poverty and child abuse are both rooted in and rationalized by prejudice against children.
Does prejudice against children—childism—operate like sexism?
All prejudices are rationalizations of actions. Prejudiced people think that their actions against a target group are right, necessary, normal. But not all prejudices are alike, nor are all prejudiced people alike—there is no “prejudiced personality.” In this book I argue that there are three basic forms of prejudices. Basically, people want to get rid of the members of a group; manipulate them into being servants; or erase their identities. The forms are usually to some degree intermixed, but sexism is fundamentally of the third form. Childism, on the other hand, comes in all three forms. This is one reason why it has been so hard to pinpoint.
Childism focuses in many different ways on “child abuse and neglect”—why is that?
First, abused and neglected children come, as children or as adults, into therapy situations where they can feel safe enough to tell their stories and talk about how they understand their abusers. Understanding their abusers motivations is crucial to them; they take a listener right to the topic and to how they have internalized the abusers motivations. They need to be cured of their internalizations as much as they need to be helped with external conditions that disrupt their growth and development. But—and this is the second reason—the field of Child Abuse and Neglect was, from its inception in the 1960s, set up in such a way, I believe, that it could not hear the experiences of abused and neglected children. It was focused on the types of acts they suffered—physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse—and children were classified by these types of acts. Treatment and prevention strategies are organized around these types of acts to this day. This has been very harmful for children. It matters how you think about children! Just as it matters how you raise them, and sponsor their growth and development—or fail to.
You are Anna Freuds biographer—is this is an Anna Freudian book?
I use many of Anna Freuds key insights, particularly those she came to when she directed a childrens residential nursery in London during the Blitz. The children she cared for were traumatized, and they had a good deal to say about what they experienced. The Best Interests of the Child, the book Anna Freud wrote late in her long life, with two colleagues from the Yale Child Study Center, was designed to teach lawyers and judges how to listen to children in the course of trials—custody trials, abuse trials. Clearly, she was writing about childism, how to recognize it and how to prevent it. I take her wisdom as a model. But I am writing for all who are concerned with childrens well-being—in diverse professions, in policy-making positions, but also as parents.