Saturday, July 16, 2005

A female's opinion

Some time after I had become aware of the effects of comic books, a woman visited me. She was a civic leader in the community and invited me to give some lectures on child guidance, education and delinquency. We had a very pleasant conversation. It happened that on that very morning I had been over-ruled by the Children's Court. I had examined a boy who had threatened a woman teacher with a switchblade knife. Ten years before, that would have been a most unusual case, but now I had seen quite a number of similar ones. This particular boy seemed to me a very good subject for treatment. He was not really a "bad boy," and I do not believe in the philosophy that children have instinctive aggressive urges to commit such acts. In going over his life, I had asked him about his reading. He was enthusiastic about comic books. I looked over some of those he liked the best. They were filled with alluring tales of shooting, knifing, hitting and strangling. He was so intelligent, frank and open that I considered him not an inferior child, but a superior one. I know that many people glibly call such a child maladjusted; but in reality he was a child well adjusted to what we had offered him to adjust to. In other words, I felt this was a seduced child. But the Court decided otherwise. They felt that society had to be protected from this menace. So they sent him to a reformatory.

In outlining to the civic leader what I would talk about, I mentioned comic books. The expression of her face was most disappointed. Here she thought she had come to a real psychiatrist. She liked all the other subjects I had mentioned; but about comic books she knew everything herself.