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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The #Freudian Pizza Effect. By John von Daler

                        I just read a blog by a young Danish mother. She was getting tired of implied criticism suggesting that parents often pacify their children by letting them play with an ipad or watch television.
She felt criticized both for sending them to nursery school and for not sending them there. She defended herself with considerable grace and intelligence. (If you can read Danish, click to read her blog HERE.I fully agree with her. My grandchildren love the ipad - but they also love songs, musical instruments, stories, conversations and lots and lots of playing. The combination is fine. And they attend nursery schools.
                My errand here is to dig further down into the background for the criticism. How does it arise?
                Western society has undergone a metamorphosis from religious-based to psychology-based norms. The monumental work of Sigmund #Freud has been used, misused, and reused by popular culture. Freud has become a victim of the Pizza Effect:

                 What is the Pizza Effect? Poor Italians who moved to the U.S.A. wanted to find a cheap way to satisfy their hunger. They invented a flat, round piece of baked dough and covered it with a pungent tomato sauce and melted cheese - and whatever else they had in the house.
                The result became very popular. Not only could they serve this cheap food to their hungry children, but the immigrants could also sell it to other Americans who loved it. Eventually the pizza returned to Italy in this American form; tourists asked for and expected to find it in restaurants. Soon Italy found itself selling an Italian dish that originated in the USA. Pizza became Italian.
                Similar things happened to Freud. We have taken over his thought and used it, incorrectly, in our own way. If he was trying to lift guilt from his patients, the popularization of his ideas has accomplished just the opposite: it has burdened parents with common guilt. Christian original sin has quietly been replaced with Freudian original sin: at the birth of a child its parents automatically become guilty. Later, the bad things that happen to the child growing up are interpreted largely in relation to mistakes or misjudgements on the part of their parents. You could call this the Freudian Pizza Effect.
                Young parents often get weighed down by the inexhaustible number of mistakes they can make: from serving too much sugar to exposing their children to too much media, from studying too little with their children to pushing them too strenuously into learning - and they either toilet train too early or too late.
                Most parents are doing their very best to raise their children. Why not lift the Freudian Pizza Effect from their shoulders so that they can raise them in peace?

                I am neither advocating a surgical removal of Freud from our culture, nor a return to original sin in the Christian version. But would it be entirely wrong to throw the Pizza Effect in the garbage and go back to some more healthy and positive ways of thinking? Take the guilt out of child rearing. Freud might like that.

If you like my blog, you might want to read my book. You can buy it HERE.


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