Psychohistorical views on infanticide

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Early infanticidal childrearing is a model used in the study of psychohistory to refer to the occurrence of infanticide in paleolithic,[1][2] pre-historical, or historical hunter-gatherer tribes or societies. "Early" means early in history or in the cultural development of a society, not to the age of the child. "Infanticidal" refers to the high incidence of infants killed when compared to modern nations.[3] The model was developed by Lloyd deMause within the framework of psychohistory as part of a seven-stage sequence of childrearing modes that describe the development of human cultures in their attitude to their children.[4] The word "early" is also meant to distinguish it from late infanticidal childrearing, identified by deMause in the more established, agricultural cultures up to the ancient world.

Contents

The model

This particular model is a psychological concept that aims to understand anthropological data, especially from such societies as the Yolngu of Australia, the Gimi, Wogeo, Bena Bena, and Bimin-Kuskusmin of Papua New Guinea, the Raum, the Ok and the Kwanga, based on observations by Géza Róheim,[5] Lia Leibowitz, Robert C. Suggs,[6] Milton Diamond, Herman Heinrich Ploss, Gilbert Herdt, Robert J. Stoller, L. L. Langness, and Fitz John Porter Poole, among others.[7] While anthropologists and psychohistorians generally do not dispute the data of their particular research, they dispute its significance (both in terms of importance and in terms of meaning) and its interpretation.[7]

Supporters attempt to explain cultural history from a psycho-developmental point of view, and argue that cultural change can be assessed as "advancement" or "regression" based on the psychological consequences of various cultural practices.[8] While most anthropologists reject this approach, and most theories of cultural evolution as ethnocentric, the psychohistorians in their turn proclaim the independence of psychohistory and summarily reject the mainstream view in scholarship, that of Boasian anthropologists.

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