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March 1974

Fears and Tyranny: Observations on the Tyrannical Child

Author Affiliations

Jerusalem, Israel
From the Department of Child Psychiatry, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Barcai is currently with the Oranim Guidance for the Children of the Kibutz, Kiriat Tivon, Israel.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(3):392-395. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760090098015

The clinical relationship between fearfulness and tyranny in children is explored in two representative cases. A characteristic pattern of family interaction emerges that underlies the dynamics of tyranny and fears. Ignoring this interaction and treating fear alone was not helpful; introducing changes in family interaction that lead to the control of tyranny affected both fears and tyranny.

It is suggested, therefore, that due to specific family structure and motivation a pattern of interaction develops whereby all caretakers are incapable of setting limits to the child. This results in consistent yielding to his demands, and leads the child to experience omnipotence and fantasies of power, as well as overdependence, and the inability to tolerate frustration.

The incongruence of these experiences and the confrontation with the environment outside the home brings about the experience of fear.

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