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Hardness of Heart, Hardness of Life: The Stain of Human Infanticide.
Lanham, New York, Oxford: University Press of America, 2000, 623 pp.
Review by César Tort
First published in The Journal of Psychohistory 36 (2) Fall 2008
Republished on Amazon.com by Andreas Wirsén on a mission from the reviewer
When I first discovered Lloyd deMause's writings in the internet in February 2006, I was slack-jawed. My first reaction was a healthy skepticism about the most gruesome aspects of childrearing and, like a member of a juror, I decided to listen to both sides of the story. I promptly purchased a copy of Colin Heywood's 2001 History of childhood because Heywood, a senior lecturer in economic and social history in the University of Nottingham, is not a psychohistorian. It surprised me that, although Heywood does indeed accept the historicity of the data of abusive childrearing in history, he did not reach the same stance of deMause by condemning the abuse. After reading his book I could not conjecture another reason for this omission but that Heywood simply chose to close his eyes. Thus the first "witness" against psychohistory in our hypothetical trial had, in fact, the opposite effect in my mind: the data that deMause had amassed was right, but an academic did not want to reach the natural conclusion that childrearing methods have been a nightmare throughout history.
There are not many places in the internet to follow a discussion with knowledgeable academics hostile to psychohistory. But I found an active forum in the talk pages of the articles of Wikipedia related to Psychohistory.Read more ›
Milner's Hardness of Heart/Hardness of Life is not uninteresting, it is extremely repetitive however, so much so that certain quotations appear 3 and 4 times. Also, it is sometimes unclear with whom the reader is meant to sympathize. Is this a treatise on children's rights? on women's right to abortion? on adults' rights not to want children? against the church? In fact the author, while repeatedly mentioning that the Catholic church has, throughout recorded history aimed to provide a haven for unwanted children, takes little real interest in this civilized fact and prefers to list, with apparent relish the countless ways in which biological parents have put an end to life because squeezed between monetary want and moral disapproval of unwed mothers. The author sides with the child at times and the rights due him against murderous parents but at times, it is the point of view of the "savages" which is described as comprehensible. Is this an instance of science in the service of a prejudice (against religious authority and therefore in favor of unmitigated oligarchy), somewhat like Survival of the prettiest : the science of beauty by Nancy Etcoff? It seems so. Also Hardness of Heart/Hardness of Life contains proof of the worldwide prejudice against women both single and married, but what is the aim of this? Is is to exact reparations in the form of political power from the men who will determine the face of "western" society in the future. It is hard to say. There is slightly too much sympathy with barbaric practices for the reader not to conclude that the author or his sponsors seek permission from history to kill children (read "employees" or others I will not name) because this has been done before on earth.
I was completely sickened, as I continue to be sickened, of the attitude throughout history of women and, in this book, female children. The geniuses in China are starting to realize what a mistake they made as there are very few women of marriageable age for their precious males (those women who weren't murdered for being the wrong gender are opting to marry foreign men. Wonder why?) I will never understand the ridiculous attitude that being female makes you sub-human and that being born with a uterus means you were born without a brain.