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The Sexual Enlightenment Of Children

” Essay, Research Paper

Jeffrey Miller

Intro to Psychology

Due: 4-17-98

A review of “The Sexual Enlightenment of Children”

by Sigmud Freud

“The Sexual Enlightenment of Children” is an open

letter written by Dr. Sigmund Freud to M. Furst, editor

of Soziale Medizin und Hygiene. It deals with the ways

that children learn about sexuality and how them

learning it the wrong way could possibly scare them for

the rest of there lives. He does this by using examples

for his own work and the work of other psychologists

dealing with the sexual development of young people.

Freud opens the letter by letting Furst know that

when asked this question he took it as wanting the

opinion of one doctor who could base his opinion on his

work and not as someone using the large amount of

literature that had become available. As a whole Freud

feels that children should not be left in the dark about

sex and sexual feelings. He says “To My mind it seems

that certain things are altogether too much wrapped in

mystery.” By this he means that children should be

completely free to develop at there own pace. He says

that if children are not told this they will find other

ways of getting the information such as other children

or books. Also he states that it is improbable to think

that sexual desires will not develop in a child if the

are not stirred by any outside source.

Freud believes that children bring a certain amount

of sexual instinct in to the world with them when they

are born. He say, “It is commonly believed that the

sexual instinct is lacking in children, and only begins

to arise when the sexual organs mature.” Freud claims

that various parts of our body are “erotogenis zones”

and it is only after they develop that the genitals

become the supreme ones.

Freud sighted one example of how a child should be

treated in this area. A young boy by the name of Herbert

who has very intelligent parents. They never tried to

repress his development as a sexual being. What he began

to refer to his private part as his “wee-wee maker” his

parents never once told him that things like that were

not spoke of in public. They did this to show him that

sexual activity is not a bad thing.

Freud stated several times that one thing that

should never be done is to let your child think that sex

is a dirty thing. This will only cause the child to have

problems later in life that may be irreversible. He

sighted yet another example from his work that shows how

a person can be scared by things such as this. A young

girl by the name of Lily wrote a letter to her Aunt Mali

on behalf of her and her playmates. Lily asked Aunt Mali

where babies came from. The girls had all sorts of

ideas, but they wanted to know the truth and Aunt Mali

was the only on they could turn to for such a question.

Freud highly doubts that Lily got the correct answer.

Lily later developed the neurosis that comes from

“unanswered unconscious questions-obsessive

speculating.” Freud said about this “… they whisper

confidences to each other which, because of the sense of

guilt in the childhood inquirers, stamp everything

sexual as horrible and disgusting”

Freud feels that sex should be treated just like

everything else in the world. It shouldn’t be kept from

children. He thinks that even in schools children should

be taught the different animals in the animal kingdom

reproduce. He says that a child would be much better

off if the were well guided on the subject and not just

let go to find what they will for the world. Most of

all I think he is saying that sex should not be kept a


In some cases I feel that Freud is right on with

his ideas. I also think that some of his ideas don’t hit

anywhere near the mark for the modern society we live in

today. For example, I believe that children shouldn’t

be left completely in the dark about things of a sexual

nature. All children develop at different speeds and

some might not be quite ready for this kind of

information if it was taught in school at a certain

grade level. I best way that I can see to deal with

this is for parents to love there children and never let

then think that the can’t ask then questions about

anything. The parents then have to be ready to answer

any question that the child might have.

I the case sighted above concerning the little

girl who wanted to know where babies come from, I think

that there is probably more to the story the what was

stated in the essay. I don’t believe that a child being

denied the facts about where babies come from would

cause her to develop such a disorder. I can’t be sure

about this because I do lack the amount of knowledge

that is required to diagnosis a person or ascertain how

the disorder was caused.

The story of the small boy who ran around all of

the time talking about his “wee-wee maker” struck me as

somewhat comical. I really don’t see any reason to let a

child run about say thingssuch as this. If a child isn’t

taught that decorum doesn’t permit certain things in

certain places then they will never learn.