IPT Book Reviews

Title: Childhood Phases of Maturity
Author: Ernest Borneman
Publisher: Prometheus Books, 1994

Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Dr.
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
(800) 421-0351
$59.95 (c)

This 325-page book by Austrian sexologist Ernest Borneman is described in the Foreword by Vern L. Bullough as a path-breaking book because it is a comprehensive examination of childhood sexuality from birth through age eight. Indeed, it is. There is a detailed description in each chapter of the sexual development of children of the age designated. There is also a section in each chapter linking specific adult sexual pathologies to specific practices in child rearing or developmental stages. Each chapter includes description of children's behavior and their sexuality based on 20 years of observing thousands of children. These behavioral observations are the most useful and most powerful material in the book. The book ends with a bibliography of the most important sources for each chapter organized according to topic.

The book shows its European origins. The framework for understanding children's sexuality is primarily psychoanalytic and relies upon a scheme of quite rigid developmental phases using dynamic concepts about relationships with self, parents, and others. As such it may have some portions where American learning-theory trained psychologists will wince. But it would be unfortunate if the psychodynamic assumptions led American scientists to disregard the book. In addition to the behavioral observations reflecting the experience of sensitive and thoughtful observers, there are many practical suggestions for addressing the concerns of children and assisting them in healthy development. There is a compassion for children and their growth that is rarely seen in scientists who look only for tests of significance. There is much wisdom here that can aid anyone who seeks to understand children and their sexuality.

Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies.

Order this book: Hardcover

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