Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dr. Maurice O'Connor on Child Psychiatry

One of my grandmother's brothers was a distinguished Canadian psychiatrist, Dr. Maurice O'Connor. He taught at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario for many years as well as working in hospitals and mental clinics. I found in Aunt Madeline's collection of essays some excerpts from a talk he gave to the Catholic Education Conference in the 1950's. There is so much common sense in his words which might serve us well today.

From the nature of the child, the first of his needs is a family, where the mother is of the greatest importance. At first there is complete dependence of the child on its mother, but there is a growth of independence. To five years of age the child has need of nothing, except its home. If that home is satisfactory there is no need of kindergarten or school. I would even say that, if the home is healthy, no amount of poor social influence, short of catastrophe, can do great or even moderate damage to the child....

Unfortunately, not all homes are healthy and present day culture, while more or less based on Christian culture, is not one in which the Catholic tradition easily flourishes. To my impression it is one in which it is almost difficult to be a Catholic and raise children as Catholics. It is a culture which, perhaps, is no more troubled than any previous culture, yet if I may be permitted to express a further impression, it is an era of doubt and uncertainty.

A healthy child is one who is so adapted towards himself and his surroundings that he is able to do all that his capabilities permit with a maximum of satisfaction to himself and to the persons associated with him. Such a child has been fed and has been allowed proper and adequate experience and has been taught by example and training to satisfy his intellectual curiosity....

Christian virtues in parents and teachers, which are described by the common names of love and goodness, are the main things useful. Specialists are for special cases only, and they are subordinate to traditional truths.
from Memory Turns the Dial by Madeline O'Connor)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, that is interesting and has proven to be so true. He was right on!