In this piece for Medium, Karen Kilbane critiques the way the foundational theories of psychology ingrain children and adolescents with self-doubt and self-criticism.
“Our psychological theories have come up with an arbitrary template for how the most perfectly normal child in the world should think, emote, and behave. This perfectly normal child is as mythical as Santa Clause, and exists nowhere in nature. Nonetheless we dangle this idealized child in front of our real children and teach them to aspire to be like him. We constantly measure our real children up to this ideal and let them know when they are falling short or surpassing. This causes extreme personality confusion and there is no other choice but for our children to grow up with crippling self doubt or grandiosity. We give them no choice but to perceive themselves as less than or greater than. Neither choice makes for healthy, happy, civil children.
It is no wonder many people grow up to be adults with no clue as to where they end and other people begin. A child who is treated as an empty vessel adults are trying to turn into their vision of what they think he should be is objectified his whole life. The natural outcome is for the child to grow up and objectify other people. Physical, mental, and sexual abuse flourishes in this culture of objectification. If we want to minimize abuse in our culture, we need to start raising our children much differently than we do now.”