Jackson, Ian
August 1997
Australian Journal of Social Issues (Australian Council of Socia;Aug97, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p257
Academic Journal
Western images of the child draw on a secure thematic tradition which may be interpreted in terms of an equation that locates childhood on one side and diverse forms of madness on the other. Explicitly within Freud's psychoanalytic theory of id functioning, Piaget's epigenetic studies of children's cognition, and by long standing legal convention, children are understood variously as sub-rational, pre-rational, or in some critically relevant sense intellectually deficient. Implicitly a corresponding argument may be discerned both in written text and in pictorial representations of the child in religious, mythological, artistic, and literary sources as well as in the discourses of everyday language. This paper takes up those principal themes within the conceptual substrate of childhood which invest it with madness in one form or other. In particular it explores the extent to which madness, though highly unfashionable as an attribute, appears in commonplace settings as a positive characteristic of children and the idea of childhood.


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