The Evolution of Childhood, Personality Structure and Superego in Germany (1200-1700)

By Ralph Frenken, Ph.D.

Heinrich Seuse
German Mystic

"The psychodynamics of mystics, their symbol formations and their actions are based
on excessive early trauma. . . . There is evidence that medieval mystics
were deprived and also emotionally and sexually abused as children."

-- Childhood and Fantasies of Medieval Mystics, Dr. Ralph Frenken

In the following article I survey the historical evolution of childhood and personality structure by analyzing the 20 earliest German autobiographies from the 13th to the 17th century. These autobiographies were already used in two detailed studies in order to reconstruct the his­torical parent-child relation.1

In this article the main emphasis is a bit different, focussing on the consequences of a certain childhdod for the adult. For this purpose, six autobiographers will be examined, and at the end of the article they will be categorized into three different personality types: borderline, narcissistic and neurotic personality structure.

The first German language autobiographies stem from the surrounding of the mystical experience.2 The mystic Heinrich Seuse (Henry Suso, born around 1295) is usually taken to be the first author of a German language autobiography. In fact, before him some mystics have written autobiographies or at least some autobiographical passages in their religious writings.3 After these mystical autobiographies there followed historically the development of the secular autobiography in the fifteenth century. Burkard Zink's description of his life, part of a bigger chronicle, is seen as the first modern German autobiography and contains a representation of his childhood and youth, of his years of apprent~eship and his founding a family of his own.4

The following article is based on the psychohistorical assumption that the history of childhood has to be centrally seen as a history of change of the parent-child relationship. According to this assumption, this change causes new historical personalities with new superego configurations, developing new forms of relationships, new traumata and new psychological defense mechanisms and coping strategies. These theoretical assumptions shall be proved empirically.

This article includes the following steps: First, the concept of the super­ego will be described roughly together with its connection to personality structures and internalized oblect relations. Following Kernberg, the three already-mentioned personality structures wilt be sketched. Each personality type will be illustrated by historical representatives. Then the three personality structures will be ranked according their degree of psychologcl integration. The less integrated personality structure is that of the borderline personality. The narcissistic personalities are more integrated, and the neurotics show the highest degree of integration. The latter show the greatest number of defense mechanisms, the highest degree of empathy and the widest relations to others.

Finally, all 20 autobiographers will be categorized, showing the historical change of personality structures.


Freud introduced the concept of the superego in 1923 in his essay "The Id and the Ego." He understood the superego as the part of the ego which values actions, feelings and thoughts of the individual. According to Freud, the superego emerges as an internalization of parental commands and prohibitions. The ongoing representational processes - the transformation of object relations into a complex of inner objects - depend according to Freud on the decline of the Oedipus complex in its positive and negative form.5 Freud used the concepts of superego and ego ideal synonymously. Today, usually the term "superego" labels the inner forbidding instance, while the term "ego ideal" is used to label the model functions for the individual.6

Freud's thoughts on the genesis of the superego were determined primarily by his instinct theory; in later theoretical approaches the aspects of object relations became more stressed. An "object relation" is a specific affectively-toned relation between a certain object-imago and a self­imago.7 The early object theorist Melanie Klein assumed that the development of the superego begins much earlier than Freud wrote. She postulated early states of the Oedipus complex already in the first year of life. Early object relations, which were determined by primitive forms of anxiety, according to Klein built the foundation for the introjection of early superego aspects. Klein for instance describes how one-year-old children had the fear of being eaten up. She explains this specific fear by the in­trojection of an early fear object ("bad object"), which leads to a primitive biting (also cannibalizing or cutting) superego precursor.

This precursor can be developed further into a superego.8 In the same way early "good objects" become internalized, "Good" and "bad" oblects become separated by processes of splitting because of the primitiveness of the infantile psyche. Splitting is used in protecting the ego, but also leads to fantastic ex­aggerations of the affective quality of object relations, being directed on both the good or the bad object.9

Starting with Melanie Klein's assumptions, Kernberg developed theories about the development of personality structures (including the super­ego formations) by regarding the internalized object relations and their pathologies.10 The characteristics of a certain personality structure correlate with specific object relations. According to Kernberg, the connection be­tween superego and personality structure is more complex.11 The specific personality structure and the degree of integration of the superego are not directly connected functionally.

This means that, for instance, in comparing the essentially more disturbed borderline structure with the narcissistic personality the latter can show more serious superego pathology. Nevertheless, Kernberg says that the borderline syndrome is connected with the presence of primitive "superego precursors of sadistic manner," which lead to the individual's massive projection onto external objects and its experiencing of a world full of bad objects.12 Consequently, Kernberg assumes that this personality structure regularly shows serious superego disturbances.

From a psychoanalytic point of view the internalized object relations and the respective fantasies provide the foundation of the personality struc­ture of the adult. In addition, the quality of internalized object relations is dependent upon the affectively toned real experiences of the child with its real relational partners-most often his parents. The degree of dependence of these internalized object relations of real experiences with real partners has been widely discussed by the psychoanalytic community Reading the most recent writings of Kernberg, one has to draw the conclusion that this author stresses more and more the importance of real traumatic experiences in the development of severe personality disturbances.13

After these clinical remarks, we shall move on to a rough sketch which allows the historical autobiographical material to be ranked according to the underlying personality structures. For this reason, the three personality structures become distinguished as prototypes. The quality of the super­ego shall especially be noted. Fundamental is the consideration that personality structures are based on internalized object relations, depending upon the real experiences the child has had with its parents and other caregivers. An historically changing parental treatment of children therefore causes the change of object images and self-images. This means that personality structure changes historically.

I discuss the three distinguishable personality structures - borderline, narcissistic and neurotic - and examine details in the historical autobiographies. In each case, the author can be seen as representative of one of these types.

As a main emphasis is laid upon the examination of the superego in the material, what is looked for especially are scenes which allow the demonstration of the state of this psychic structure. These are particularly scenes that show the author's dealing with:

  • lustful events (sexuality, safeness, satisfaction of other needs)
  • aggression
  • object relations
  • self and own body
  • guilt and shame
  • childhood trauma


Most of the German mystics showed personality features which today would be classified as belonging to the borderline personality.14 The borderline syndrome is seen as a severe personality disturbance bordering between neurosis and psychosis. The accompanying psychodynamic is characterized by dissociations which influence the experiencing and acting of the individual decisively. On a descriptive level borderline personalities are characterized by the following features: (a) chronic, free-floating anxiety; (b) polysymptomatic neuroses (phobia, compulsion symptoms, multiple conversion symptoms, dissociative reactions such as derealization and de­personalization, amnesia and disturbances of consciousness, hypochondria, paranoid experiencing); (c) perverted sexuality; (d) impulse neuroses, including aggressive and self-destructive behavior; (e) presence of inten­sive affects (rage and depression) paired with anhedonia.15 Additionally, there are characteristic disturbances of thought and the occurrence of "mini psychoses."16 These features need not be present all the time; they can fluctuate. Also important is the fact that borderline personalities have an ability to test reality, different from psychotics.17

On a structural level Kernberg stresses nonspecific indications of ego­weakness, an access to primary process thinking and specific mechanisms of defense; among them, he emphasizes splitting as the most important one.18 According to Kernberg, splitting is used by borderline personalities as an active mechanism of defense in order to avoid the becoming conscious of certain ideational representatives which are intensely contaminated with aggression. The normal development of object relations in infancy includes an integration of good and bad images, where infantile paranoid anxieties become replaced by depressive forms and lead to a more realistic picture of objects. Based upon this integration, the baby now experiences simultaneously aggressive and libidinal aspects in one object. Borderline personalities do not develop the necessary ability to integrate contradictory forms of experience, which is necessary for experiencing ambivalence. Instead, the child uses splitting actively and develops by means of primitive idealization the totally good and totally bad object images.19 The primitive idealized objects serve as protection against aggression.

A central role in analyzing object relations also contributes to the emotional qualities of the self images. An object relation is, as already said, a specific affective connection between a certain object image and a self image.20 The development of the self image is therefore very disturbed in the borderline personality; it is split and unintegrated. There are totally good and totally bad self images, for the overidealized self images are connected with fantasied ideals of power and perfection. These pathological ideal self-structures hinder the development of a mature superego. It remains unintegrated and contains sadistic and threatening superego precursors.

The central intrapsychic condition for these splitting processes is enormously enhanced aggression. The object relations of borderline personal­ities are characterized by hate, which is the reversal of suffering.21 Almost unbearable aggression is also. the cause of self destructiveness, so typical of the borderline personality.22 While omnipotence fantasies and primitively idealized object images become worked out in the borderline personality, simultaneously a devaluation of external object takes place. This devaluation of real objects happens because of the fantasized unability of real objects to give shelter against omnipotent "totally bad" objects - partly because in order to prevent the development of these objects as persecutors and partly because of revenge fantasies, because the real oblect cannot satisfy certain needs. Borderline personalities show the tendency to displace an external object suddenly from one valution category into another. For instance, they devaluate and attack a primitively idealized object because of minimal insults (black-and-white paranoid thinking).23 With that, the self and object valuations are connected, which can be characterized by permanent fluctuation. The appearance of the borderline syndrome is often in permanent change. Nevertheless, the ongoing splitting processes are recognizable. Kernbergs sums up his structural considerations:

In consequence of their permanent projection of "totally bad" self and object images these patients see themselves confronted with a world full of dangerous, even threatening objects; against these, "totally good" self images are used as defense and grandiose ideal self images become built up.24 Already in 1975 Kernberg called as an etiological condition for the development of the borderline syndrome severe frustrations - in fact, traumatic conditions.25 Meanwhile he speaks of a "fixation to the trauma" concerning the development of pathological object relations and their rep­resentatives.26 Rohde-Dachser calls as one crucial etiological condition for the development of the borderline syndrome actual sexual abuse in early childhood.27This condition plays an enormous role in the unconscious fantasies which underlie mystical texts.

Heinrich Seuse (1295-1366)

The history of German autobiographies begins with texts of religious mystics.28 In these, the mystics describe their experiences, write about their childhood and/or the childhood of Jesus and their treatment of their own bodies. One finds in these texts the descriptions of severest disturbances of object relations and the personality development. Mystics deliver countless hints of severe childhood trauma and show an archaic, unintegrated, and excessively cruel superego. The experiences of these mystics are characterized by the following features:

  1. excessive, self inflicted destruction of the own body
  2. hallucinations of religiously interpreted objects (God, Jesus, Mary, Jesus-children, devils, demons, dead people)
  3. permanent dealing with a religious fantasy system
  4. precarious adult sexuality, presence of pedophiliac fantasies in con­nection with the Jesus-child fantasies
Heinrich Seuse was an important experiental mystic. He belonged to the most aggressive self destructors and tortured himself, according to his own writings, for about 20 years. Seuse describes in detail self destructiveness, self flagellation and other religiously motivated practices as the carrying of nail crosses and nail chains on the skin, blood letting, self chaining behavior and sleeping with a system of belts, ropes and locks.29 He ate as little as he could in order to survive, meaning he showed anorectic symptoms.30 Seuse had strong changes of mood. Before an act of self destructiveness, he felt that an "immoderate fire" was sent into his soul, so that "his heart was inflamed very ardously in divine love."31 So he went into his room and told God:

"Oh, tender God, if I could only think of a sign of love, that would be an an eternal mark of love between you and me, a document that shows that I am your inclination and you are that of my heart, as a testimony that will not vanish by forgetting." In this ardous seriousness he opened his shoulder cloth and uncovered his breast and took a slate-pencil in his hand and looked at his heart and said: "Alas, mighty God, now give me force and power to end my longing, because today you must be melted into the ground of my heart. And he began and stitched the slate-pencil into the flesh upon his heart, and stitched to and fro and up and down, until he had drawn the name IHS just right onto the heart. Blood was running out of his flesh upon the heart down his body into his bosom caused by these sharp stitches. This was so beautiful to look at for him in his fiery love that he almost did not notice the pain.32

This behavior expressed by Seuse in religious terms can be understood as the regressive reenactment of an early state of deprivation. This regressive state is accompanied by the experience of strong wishes and longing. The object of this longing, Seuse calls it God, can be understood as a memory of the early mother. Seuse wants to experience mutual love. He describes himself as a mother (pulling his dress aside, uncovering his breast and looking at it). The body self is split from the rest of the self, becomes experienced as alienated and becomes cathected as an object. The body or parts of the body function as transitional objects in the sense of Winnicott.33

At the same time Seuse experiences fantasied objects visually or hallucinatively. Seuse produces by means of cutting himself a bleeding "maternal" breast, while the flooding blood symbolizes the milk.34 Loving and extremely aggressive impulses are activated and acted out si­multaneously, showing an extreme emotional ambivalence towards the primary object.

The two aspects of experience, self inflicted pain and flooding blood­milk are understood by Hirsch as a regressed dealing of the self destructor with problems of feeling his own body boundaries.35 Hirsch points out two main etiologic factors important for the self-mutilating behavior of today's self-cutters: early emotional deprivation and traumatic overstimulation, mostly severe physical and sexual abuse.36 Hirsch assumes that the part of the body that becomes the aim of autoaggressive behavior represents a bad object.

Seuse destructs several body parts and regions, especially the breast and the back (by self flagellation). The aim of this self destructiveness is the reduction of unbearable inner tension. The pathological acting out with the own body as a maternal transitional object is based according to Hirsch on the splitting of self and body self. This splitting is caused by traumatic childhood experiences. These experiences were processed in a manner that the body self was dissociated from the rest of the self in order to keep the consistency of this rest and prevent it from ongoing dissociation. The adult who exercises self destructive behavior acts out elements of the early traumatic mother-child-relation.

The following scene illustrates Seuse's archaic superego and his treatment of his needs. Seuse hallucinated a ghost day and night.37 He once had a need to eat meat after he had not eaten it for years. He took the meat into his mouth and immediately had a hallucination: A "huge hellish person" stood before him and told other hallucinated people standing around: "This monk has caused a death [presumably by eating meat] and a death is what I want to do to him."38 The people did not allow this bad ghost to kill Seuse. Seuse describes the confrontation with this person as follows:

Since they [the people standing around] did not allow [the killing of Seuse], he pulled a cruel twist drill out and spoke to him: "Since I cannot do anything different to you I will torture your body with this twist drill and drill it into your mouth in order that you have as much pain as you had lust for eating meat" and he touched his mouth with the twist drill. Immediately, his mouth swelled so that he could not open it and could not eat for about three days neither meat nor other things except what he could suck through his teeth.39 As already said, Hirsch points out two main factors in the development of self destructive behavior: early deprivation and severe corporal, mostly sexual, abuse. The scene described above has the form of a sexual abuse and gives raise to the possibility that Seuse experienced an oral rape - possibly by his father - which he reenacted hallucinatively. The implications of the assumption of an early trauma are worked out in the following passages.

The "huge hellish person" is big and aggressive. It appears at the moment when Seuse had a "lustful" experience. Seuse had enormous problems with experiences of lust of any kind. Additionally, meat eating has to do with the killing of an animal. Seuse's experience of lust as well as this knowledge about the death of an animal stimulate the hallucination of the huge hellish person.

After the killing of Seuse is prevented by the standing people - externalizations of moderate, emotionally attached parts of the personality - the hellish person pulls out a twist drill. The twist drill symbolizes the penis. An actually oral need for food becomes punished at the connected body part, the mouth. Seuse describes himself in the scene as somebody who had, at least to certain degree, deserved the consequent torture in the form of an oral rape. First, he was guilty for the death of an animal, and second he had the forbidden feeling of lust.40

Seuse can bear lust only under certain conditions, otherwise his narcissistic homeostasis will be severely disturbed. Seuse describes also a very ambivalent picture of oral satisfying experiences. While the nurturing experiences (with the mother) become reenacted as prototypical satisfactions,41 the assumed experiences of violence leads to a prototypical experience of losing control and its reenactment. The scene illustrates how massively the world of Seuse is inhabited by superego precursors.

An experience of lust stimulates an archaic figure of revenge, to whom Seuse feels helplessly delivered. Other mystics show very similar superego configurations. Mechthild of Hackeborn (1241-1299) once heard easy songs and worldly singing.42 Thereupon she felt inflamed in God's love and wanted to give God a compensation for the annoyance (to God) of these songs. So she laid potsherds of glass into her bed and rolled herself in it until she had destroyed her skin and was almost unable to move because of pain. Here too can be seen an analogy to Seuse's experience of the "huge hellish person," an extremely self-punitive way of dealing with lust. An id-wish becomes experienced as very dangerous and activates in the superego a counter impulse. The superego becomes the audience for a enacted scene, whereas the split body-self has to suffer in order to appease the superego.

Such enactments were widely spread in monasteries. Mechthild of Hackeborn praised for instance the sound of self flagellation, which had a "very sweet tone." She writes: "While hearing this sound the angels shouted with joyful applause, the demons who tortured the souls escaped widely, the souls became redeemed from their punishment, and the chains of their guilt became broken."43 The consolation of the superego by self punishment is central.

Even among mystics Christina of Retters' (1269-92) attack on her own body was one of the most brutal. She felt oppressed by her "unchastity", which endangered her spiritual and bodily purity. The devil delivered her in her sleep "bad dreams, bad lust and temptations." Therefore Christina stood up for a year every night and hit herself with a broom.44 In order to extinguish the "fire of temptation" she burnt out her vagina several times with fire, a glowing piece of wood. One of her self destructive actions were executed after she heard a man and a woman talking about "fleshly and worldly things" - in fact about sexuality. One can see here almost the same triggering situation as with Mechthild of Hackeborn. These kinds of self-tortures are legion in the texts of mystics. The first type of superego that is described in historical German self descriptions is an archaic configuration that today can be found in borderline personalities.


Just as the concept of borderline personality has a long history, describes a great variety of clinical pictures and thereby is sometimes not completely clear, also the category of narcissistic personality is used for several allied clinical pictures.45 Bursten explains that there are "very different narcissistic personalities."46 Accordingly, this term describes personalities of very different degrees of integration and degrees of disturbance. In general, one has to remark that in the following passages the concept narcissistic personality refers to a structure that shows a much greater degree of psychological integration than the borderline personality. Consequently, in the following article the category is used with a narrower range of meaning.

Narcissistic personalities impress by a characteristic disturbance of their self esteem. They show a strongly enhanced extent of self, they want to become loved and admired by others while their need for confirmation seems to be without limits. Simultaneously they show a small degree of abilities for empathy and an enhanced dealing with grandiose fantasies. They seem to be restless and become easily bored when external sources of narcissistic gratification decrease.

In their relations with others, envy and contempt plays an important role. Other people become often judged by the advantage they hope to find. Former idols can become extremely devalued after fantasized or real disappointments. Especially they could not develop the feeling of being dependent on others, because narcissists are very suspicious.47

According to Kernberg, the defense organization of borderline and narcissistic personalities are similar.48 In both, primitive defense mechanisms predominate, such as splitting, denial, omnipotence fantasies, primitive idealization and devaluation. Different from typical borderline personalities, the narcissists have a relatively adequate social adaptation, a well functioning impulse control and better abilities for sublimation. Narcissistic personalities show, in contrast to borderline personalities, a more integrated self, although this self has pathological features.49 Kernberg describes this pathological part as the "grandiose self," a structure that makes narcissistic personalities fear dependence upon others. The integration of the superego of narcissistic personalities is incomplete.50 Also, their superego contains primitive superego precursors, especially overidealized ones.51 Beside these differences concerning the phenomenology and psychic structures between borderline and narcissistic personalities, one has to stress at this point that clear episodes of self destructiveness and bodily self hurting in each type leads to the categorization of the historical autobiography of the borderline personality structure. In spite of the possibility of a distinction between these two personality structures, one has to stress that there are individuals who can be placed in both categories.

In order to avoid misunderstanding, I want to point out that I have described above a certain type of a narcissistic personality (among several other forms) in a loose dependence on Kernberg, while deMause in his latest book describes another, much more disturbed type of narcissist as described in the works of Masterson, who has revised Kernberg's categories.52

Johann von Soest (1448-1506)

After the mystical autobiographies there emerged beginning in the 15th century the first German secular autobiographies. The earliest secular autobiographers without exception experienced as children long separations from their parents, usually because of a parental abandonment.53

An almost typical narcissistic personality structure including the connected superego was Johann von Soest. He was a man with several talents. Already as a child he was a professional singer and later he became a significant composer. He was also writer and physician. As a baby Soest was scalded with hot oil over his face - probably by his mother.54 The apparently lasting disfigurement with the loss of the sight of one eye was presumably quite a severe trauma for the child, especially because Soest took as an artistically interested man aesthetical aspects very serious. A lasting disfigurement of his face with a blind eye is definitely a massive narcissistic insult. It most probably influenced his later personality development widely. And also his later profession as a physician may be connected with it. Both his younger brothers were abandoned.55 His father died when Soest was three years old. The editors point to the fact that Soest crossed out six lines of his autobiography.56 In these lines he mentions that his mother had remarried. The description of the events was strongly changed. The stepfather was not mentioned, except in the crossed-out lines. This means that in his autobiography Soest described the real triad always only as a dyad. One is tempted to think that Soest is denying the insult of the remarriage of his mother.

Soest as an adult showed a kind of inability to bond which can already be shown in his childhood. Already as a nine-year-old child he tried to escape from home or from his mother and stepfather, respectively, and traveled with a juggler. At the age of eleven he managed - as he writes, against the will of his mother - to get employment at a court of a duke and therewith to enforce the separation from his family. He does not mention any conflicts and comments this separation, saying: "I forgot my mother completely."57 This duke became an important promoter of Soest as a singer. Then two English singers came to the court and sang better than Soest. Therefore Soest wanted to travel behind them in order to learn their art of singing. He split up with the duke, who did not want to him to leave, even threa­ening Soest with execution if he should nevertheless leave the court. Soest finally lost all privileges and left the court.

Central for Soest's activities was the insult caused by the experience of being less good than others. Narcissistic insults were the most feared by Soest. While listening to the singing of the more gifted English singers he felt like "a child."58 Being a child was extremely painful to Soest.

Soest's narcissistic personality features can be seen also by other passages. He offended teachers he had surpassed.59 In his autobiography he hints at an excessive sexual life at court. He satin prison because of quarrels, and he wrote that he had actually castrated an enemy after a fight - a really archaic revenge for a narcissistic insult.60

Nevertheless he designed great parts of his autobiography as a kind of self accusation. He describes himself as the "Lost Son," as a repentant child that after trials of escape wants to return back to his family and get forgiveness. One notices his splitting mechanisms and the projection of own self parts, as when he reproaches his own son of passion, impatience and lying.61 I interpret Soest's aggressive acting out not so much as a "missing superego" but more as a tilting process, where hard and cruel superego for­mations and corresponding defense processes lead the actions.

Johannes Butzbach (1477-1516)

The later Benedictine monk, Johannes Butzbach, was given away to his aunt at the age of 9 months. He had an extremely ambivalent relation to this aunt. At her death when he was 10 years of age, he recalled the mourning of several persons, but not his own. The relation of the aunt to the nephew was obviously eroticized: She regularly took the little Butzbach into her bed when her husband was away.62 Clearly one sees here a description of a dislocation of positions in the oedipal triad: Butzbach re­places the husband in this scene. He does not mention sexual infringements, but the scene is obviously based on the aunt's dealing with her feelings of loneliness. These scenes, which took place repeatedly, obviously made a strong impression on Butzbach.63 Butzbach feared sexual enticement. Although he had extreme anxieties at school - he was beaten bloody there - he advises the parents to send their children to school, because at home would threaten enticement, for instance by the "less educated members of the paternal household. . . Because he who hears and sees bad things from the tender child ages on will become spoiled inside of soul."64

After the death of his aunt he returned for about a year to his parents, only to be given away again. The short stay at his parents was extremely problematic. He was beaten because of playing truant, by the request of his mother.65 Directly after the scene with the beating teacher, Butzbach describes how he was given away completely by his family Here his father becomes mentioned for the first time as an active person. A so-called "Beanus" came to to Butzbach's father. A Beanus is an older youth who is travelling with children, the so-called "Schutzen".66 He sometimes has the inclination to visit schools. This inclination also can be a make-believe as can be clearly shown by the autobiography of Thomas Platter.67 Butzbach's parents deliver their son for better or for worse to the youth who was completely unknown to them. With this Beanus Butzbach experiences a chain of mistreatment and exploitation.

Instructive concerning Butzbach's personality is his form of describing his abandonment. The scene, when he is leaving with the Beanus, he comments as follows:

There I began for the first time to feel the love of a son to his parents which I could not show them anymore. Verily, then I understood for the first time how infallible the love of parents to their children is, and I learned how sad the parting of a beloved is.68

The repression of the perception of the real relations to his parents and his extreme narcissistic insult through this parental abandonment become perfected at this point. Butzbach has to activate strong reaction formation against his aggressive impulses, so much that he takes the separation as an opportunity to call the parent-child-relation as the ideal love-relation. Butzbach as an adult writer of his autobiography was not able to express a word of critique towards his parents or distance himself from what happened, respectively. Open critique of his caretakers cannot be found in the whole autobiography.

The existence of idealized parental images (especially of father images) serves in the sense of the primitive idealization as a mean of protection against the perception of neglecting parents. This split parental images and especially the hated primitive mother image can frequently be seen in Butzbach's writing. In his autobiography the adult Butzbach turns permanently against (worldly) love relations and against women in general, whom he sees often as enticers and witches. Butzbach writes: "Oh, which stupidity is there after all with the men and-oh!-what kind of deceiving mockery and which trick with the women!"69

Butzbach was a glowing witch hater. In poems he celebrated the execution death of a alleged witch. He writes how the "pale as death sorceresse" poisoned the abbot of the monastery Laach with a cheese containing aconite. Butzbach calls this woman a series of most derogatory designations, among them: "poison-mixing sorceresse, "most bad sorceress," "bad woman," "disgraceful disfigured old, criminal whore, talkative bitch, biting thief."70 This woman was tortured on her breasts in order to get her to confess.71 The breast as a topic already played an important role in the first sentence of the autobiography where Butzbach writes that he was torn off the mother's breast by his aunt.

In the poem he writes about glowing tongs with which first the breast and later the whole body of the woman was destroyed. What first was done to the partial object later was done to the whole object. Butzbach's description produces a connection between the fantastic elements of his childhood and his adult life. Butzbach stresses how sexually greedy the woman alleged ly was: "A demon was her wooer and husband, who slept with her as often she wanted it. For she was exceedingly voluptuous and insatiable."72

The partner of the woman was only roughly described as a demon; the main activity came from the woman. Butzbach wrote about his aunt, that she took him into her bed when her husband was not at home. The oedipal structure 'of the sexual active woman (the aunt) and her only sparsely mentioned and often absent husband (his uncle) can be found in features in his description of witch and demon. Certainly, in the scene with the aunt in bed there are just no descriptions of manifest sexual activity of the aunt, but there are descriptions of a massive dislocation in the oedipal triad.

Butzbach attacks in his witch-poem in excessive manner a distorted appearing fantasy of a woman. With this witch-fantasy he mentioned aggressions against women and against prototypical female parts of the body, based on unconscious aggressions against his mother and his aunt.

Butzbach's superego appears cruel. One finds almost no passages on well being, bodily calmness and relaxation, human and experienced inclination and so on. If there are wishes for relations at all then they are in a sphere of far distant idealized idols. He remains in this aspect closer to real relations than the mystics, but nowhere one can realize a normal experienced relation to a person. His monk life and his excessive, although literary, sublimated aggression impulses directed onto distorted fantasies demonstrate the existence of archaic superego precursors.

The narcissistic personality features of Butzbach consist of self-righteous moralizing, his admiration of distant excessively idealized father-figures and his appearing insult by the alleged witch, from whom he can experience his narcissistic rage and act it out in literary form.73 The superegos of Soest, Butzbach and other authors who were abandoned as children are much more integrated than those of the mystics. The conflicts are less archaic, hallucinations are rare (although they can happen under stress conditions), relations to real people become realized more easy. In the case of insults these persons show massive aggression against external objects.


The neurotic personality structure shall only be sketched roughly here, while the difference to the first two forms is central. Neurotic personalities have a much richer control of impulses and richer defense mechanisms. They are based on repression, whereas (especially) borderline structures are characterized by the massive use of splitting. Neurotic personalities are more able for empathy and the experiencing of positive feelings for others than both formerly sketched personality structures.

Felix Platter (1536-1614)

Felix Platter grew up in a Protestant family. In his childhood, abandonment played no or only a minor role. He lived at least until his 17th year with his family. The family Platter had good material conditions. Felix's childhood was characterized by the fosterage of a nurse, by a very rigid observation by his father, his production of feelings of guilt in his son, the father's heavy beatings and his non-acceptance of any form of disobedience.

When the ten-year-old Felix once broke a little knife of his father, he lived for months with severe feelings of guilt.74 Simultaneously he did not dare to tell his father. How massively the father could produce feelings of guilt shows a passage of a letter to his 19-year-old son Felix, who studied medicine in Montpellier. The father used the death from the plague of the sisters of Felix to drive him to study:

Oh that God wants, that I can experience that [the promotion and the marriage of his son] together with your dear mother, and that all of it may happen for the honor of God and for the benefit of the neighbor, or else I wished you would be buried long ago with your sisters. Because that you should know, if I knew that you wasted your time, as fatherly I feel for you at the moment, as merciless I would become against you. . .75

The father is extorting his son here. The internalization of these demands characterized Felix Platter's superego.

Felix Platter suffered all his life from a ring-phobia: he could not look at rings or touch them without having massive reactions of disgust.76 One has to see this together with the fact that he was a famous physician and was one of the first who opened corpses. The genesis of the ring-disgust is connected with an exceeding fear of castration in the case of sexual arousal. The phobia is based on a condensation of several chiIdhood scenes. Platter was fed by a nurse with a mutilated finger. His mother once cut him on his finger. His sister frightened him with rings out of a cut gullet, and Felix saw as a child a sexual perpetrator who was beheaded. He condensed the single elements of these scenes and thereby formed his phobia. By that he avoided symbolically the vaginal ring-object in order to escape the feared castration.

Platter showed several neurotic conflict solutions. He often showed intellectualization, affect isolation and displacement, as can be illustrated as follows: Felix Platter was determined by his father to become a physician.77 Thereby he became for his father an enormously important delegate in the sense of Stierlin. Felix already as a child tended to have reactions of disgust. Thus he tried to reach a kind of psychic hardening. Het writes that he liked to see slaughterings and watched accurately the inner organs: "Thus I always enjoyed as often as one slaughtered pigs and always requested much for allowance for watching the butcher when he separated the inner limbs and moved them."78 The articulated "joy" can be interpreted as a later insertion, which is based on massive reaction formation. Not only here but also in later descriptions, for instance, of executions, he shows a very cold style of writing that discloses his origin in the just opposite feelings. He once let blood from a bird that died afterwards. Platter writes he was a long time sad, which demonstrates again his conflict between emotion and cold professionalism. Platter was about 14 or 15 years old.

As an adult Platter could act quite inconsiderately in order to achieve his goals, as when he tried to force his stepmother to give him the children she had with his father. Felix Platter brought his half siblings into his possession. He himself remained without children of his own and was possibly as Casimir Bumiller and I assume - sexually impotent.79

Felix Platter's superego was strict and far-reaching, though integrated, and his neurotic conflicts do not handicap much his life outside his family, but seem to have influenced his ability for personal relations. His marriage seems to have been unhappy.

Strikingly, this important physician could not diminish the massive influence of his father and remained for his whole life an obedient son. When there is any criticism of his overwhelming father it was never directly expressed, but always subliminal.

Andreas Ryff (1550-1603)

Andreas Ryff grew up in a Protestant family like Platter. He was beaten as a child and given away from home when he was 10 years old. A late and milder abandonment took place. Impressive with Ryff are his identifications with harsh beating but nevertheless reliable father-figures in the surrogate families. Ryff lived for three years with a spice dealer when he was 12 years of age. This man hit him about 30 times in a year, bloody, with a rod.80 The reasons were minor offenses, as for instance the insufficient cleaning of the store. The punishments were ritualized. The dealer sent the other staff to church, let Ryff stay at home and executed the punishment.

Ryff nevertheless did not complain, because the benefits of this place were so important to him that he accepted the punishments. He wrote positively about the dealer's wife, who liked him, and he praised the dealer for his Christian education. It is not clear if such identifications with the aggressor are more likely with the ambivalent or the intrusive modes of deMause. It seems as if the feeling of belonging to the dealer's family was so important to Ryff that he accepted the sadistic features of this man. This sheds some light on Ryff's own family.

The father seems to have given him some care. He wanted his son to study later and furnished him a room of his own with the intention that his son may develop more interest in education and knowledge. Additionally, Ryff was educated by assistant teachers. But Ryff refused school. He almost never mentioned his own mother, which hints at great conflicts with her.

Ryff seems to have written his whole autobiography in order to erect a monument for his unhappy love for a woman, the daughter of his master.81 He devotes ten full printed pages to this drama. The marriage was prevented because both pairs of parents demanded that their child had to stay living with them. Ryff becomes very distinct and emotional in his description. A description of such feelings in a direct connection with a partner - and not directed onto fantasies of religious or other character - and the open articulation of mourning is very rare in historical autobiographies. It hints at a more integrated personality, allowing him to have a more mature handling of such feelings.

Ryff could not escape the influence of his father and remained obedient, just like Felix Platter. Nevertheless, in some passages his critique gets more open. He writes quite clearly: "In summa, as long as I stayed under the rod I could not show what I have thought and where the light of nature led me."82 The education of little children becomes called at the time "under the rod," which documents the occurrence of beatings in this particular family.

Later, after his unhappy love, he lived again with his parents and worked in his father's store. The working together with his father was rich with conflicts. His father tried to determine the way of working and dealing and Ryff was without success in asking for independence. Ryff describes his wish for leaving the family: "and thought many times to go away and get myself into service, but which always was against my heart"83 Ryff remained with his father and stayed all his life an obedient son. Ryff's superego resembles the one of Felix Platter, and is perhaps even a bit more integrated.

Hermann von Weinsberg (1518-1597)

Weinsberg had by far the most caring childhood in the sample. In his family abandonment did not play any role, just the opposite: The family took children from their family relatives on the maternal side. Especially Weinsberg's relation to his father - as the only one of the sample-carried modern features. In contrast to that the mother-child-relation showed emotional problems and archaic characteristics. For instance, the mother weaned the half-year-old son by coloring her breasts black and frightening him by that.84 Still, his father was more empathic. He stayed up at night and consoled his 18-months-old ill son: "and as was often said to me I was very impatient and troublesome, so that my father had to stay up often at night and play on a drum and whistle for me in order to make me quiet."85 This scene is unique in these early historical autobiographies.

Both parents hit their child, but the mother hit more often. When she once had hit the 6-year-old Weinsberg very hard, he ran to his father and complained about it.

and as I told him my misery that I had been hit, he began joking with me and said: "Well, what do you say, shall we drive your mother from the house or shall we start living in the room above and let your mother live in the house downstairs?" Then I said: "Let her live downstairs." This pleased my father that I did not want her to be driven out only because of a bit of hitting.86

The mother-son-relationship again seems to be more conflict-laden than the father-son-relationship. Weinsberg expects his father's support and help, otherwise he would not try to get his understanding. The scene shows also that Weinsberg was not simply identified with his mother's ac­tions, but was able to refuse them. The continuation of this distancing becomes enabled by his fathers reaction. By it Weinsberg does not become forced to take his parent's angle, but experiences that there are more than one points of view. Weinberg was very much fixated upon his father and relatively less autonomous against him. This is connected with seeing his mother as emotionally quite unreliable. However, Weinsberg reacted with depres­sion and psychosomatic illness when he had massive conflicts with his father.87 Nevertheless, his personality as well as his superego seems to be the most integrated in the sample, which I want to demonstrate in the following.

In 1536 when Weinsberg was 18 years old, his mother was believed to be bewitched.88 His mother traced her heart- and breast-pains back to an alleged witch, a woman from the neighborhood. Striking is the fact that the mother felt bewitched at just the body region which she painted frighteningly black for her son's weaning: her breast. This body region is involved in highly cathected early-infantile scenes of their internalization, which delivers certain unconscious structuralization. The breast-pains of Weinsberg's mother therefore can be seen as an expression of problematic relational experiences in her own early mother-child interactions.

It has to be supposed that Weisnberg's mother in a psychosomatic manner reenacted her own trauma or deprivation in connection with weaning. The aversive weaning of her son and the psychosomatic breast-pains, which become related in magical connections, would be consequences of the same causes in the childhood of the mother. The alleged witch is probably a representative of her early mother in connection with disrailed object experiences. Her view of the neighborhood woman is accordingly based on a magical-projective way of conflict solution, with its problematic roots can be supposed in the own childhood.

Weinsberg and his father wanted to talk down the mother's "fantasy."89 But she insisted on curing her pains with Christian and magical methods: she held masses in the cathedral and used bones which were lying a long time buried in earth for healing purposes. Father and son against that developed the theory that the breast pains came from spinning wool. They told the mother she should avoid the one-sided work. She followed this advice, and indeed a cure happened.

Weinsberg's reaction on the fantasies of his mother corresponded to a cathection of both his parental objects. He managed to compensate the probably problematic early experiences with his mother by identifying with his more realistic and also more emotionally devoted father. In fact, there cannot be reconstructed one single meaningful and empathic interaction with his mother, against this several reconstructed interactions with the father already in the baby age speak for a (in our modern sense) far-reaching healthy caretaking. The result of this caretaking for Weinsberg in the sense of the development of an integrated personality can be demonstrated as follows.

Weinsberg rarely articulated really autonomous attitudes to political or ideological questions. But. he was quite distinct concerning the existence of witches and magic. He did not take a completely definite position, such as writing that witches did not exist. But he writes that it was "bad people" who accuse other people of witchcraft and therewith bring them into bad odor.90 So he recognizes the social causes and consequences of denunciation. He even analyzes how the rumor originates that someone is a witch and how evidence is solely given by suspicion and its unproven passing on. His really modern view was connected with his relation to his father and his views and is also a distancing from his mother.

To the "bad people" who speak out an unproven suspicion would be included also his mother. Weinsberg separated his comment about the witch delusion (volume 4) from his description of his mother who thought she was bewitched (volume 1); nevertheless the connection is clear. Presumably Weinsberg used his identification with his father as a means of defense against a (for him) unpredictable maternal object that frightened him much more. Thus he probably subjected himself so much under the paternal measures.

Because of his autonomous' distancing from the magical belief systems of his environment by the identification with his father, I want to distinguish the personality structure of Weinsberg from those of the other autobiographers. The much more educated Felix Platter, for instance, truly believed in demons.9i Weinsberg's personality shall thus be explained as (in an essentially sense) neurotic; Felix Platter's personality (and comparable autobiographers) shall be understood as archaic-neurotic. The crucial difference consists in the feature that the archaic-neurotic personality can barely accept consciously regressive tendencies as a consequence of a very rigid superego. Additionally there is a bigger tendency for social conformity. Ryff's personality delivers a kind of transition between the two here opposed prototypes.


In the following passages the consequences of the material examined here concerning the change of childhood, personality structures and superego are discussed. For this reason at first some more precise statements on the composition of the sample will be made. Concerning the mystics, six relatively definite autobiographical texts are selected.92 Concerning the seclar autobiographers, I have examined all German language autobiographies that contain more than lust a few sentences on childhood.93 It is not completely clear how many autobiographies do fulfill this criterium and are nevertheless not selected in the sample. Based on the relevant collected works, one has to conclude that the majority of all existing autobiographies examined contain no childhood at all.94

Now one has to ask in which respect these 20 autobiographies represent the change or the evolution respectively of childhood and personality structures of the contemporary population. The chosen methods are based solely on autobiographies. The writing of texts once was open only to a tiny group of people. This extreme selection forces us to be cautious in concluding from the sample to the population. For the secular autobiographies it seems to be clear that they deliver a picture of childhood that holds for the most privileged people of their times. This assumption arises from every author who (a) survived his childhood; (b) could read and write; (c) had free resources to write such a text and (d) had no severe psychic or mental defects that prevented writing. With enhanced probability the author (e) was a member of the upper stratums while writing an autobiography; (f) was a man; (g) had a good education; (h) found his own life important and worth telling about it and (i) had the wish to write an autobiography.

In the following the personality structure becomes linked with the psychogenic mode of deMause. This mode allows a short description of the parent-child relation with respect to the affective quality of these relations By that, deMause stresses the real relational experiences that children had with their parents. He starts, so to say, not from the fantasied aspects but from the real events for the description of historical parent-child relations For this he developed a rough scheme of the evolution of parent-child-relations in the West from antiquity until today. His suggested scheme of periodization contains a short characteristic of every relation mode and the data when the "psychogenically most advanced part of the population in the most advanced countries" changed to a new mode of parent-child relation. Five of these relation modes become sketched in the following passages:

(1) Infanticidal Mode (since prehistoric times)
The parents kill a large proportion of children; at the same time the parent's relationship to the surviving children are neglectful and sexualized The psychogenic mode is called infanticidal both because the surviving children realize their siblings have been killed in quantity and because they sense their own personal lives are not important to their caretakers.

(2) Abandoning mode (since the 4th century)
According to deMause, Christians were the first he found who tried to stop infanticide. The parents instead abandoned their children to wet nurses. monasteries, and to other households as servants in order to distance them. Sexual use of children diminishes, battering remains common.

(3) Ambivalent Mode (since the 12th century)br> Central is the attribute that the child alternately is seen as a good or as bad figure. The terminus "ambivalence" is used in a more narrow sense then usual and labels the parent's oscillation between split good and bad images of the child. The parents have and act out fantasies of forming the child's body (by swaddling). In general the child's body plays a dominant role in the parent-child relation of this mode.

(4) Intrusive Mode (since the 16th century)
The parents begin to control the psyche of their child more than brutal controlling the body itself. They permanently fight with the child's will its needs and impulses. Swaddling decreases then ends; the control of infantile sexuality begins (prohibition of masturbation) and the procreation of feelings of guilt. A central topic is the necessity for instant obedience of the child.

(5) Socializing Mode (since the late 18th century)
The child is less physically over-controlled by its parents and instead is "guided into proper paths". The will of the child is not such a threat any. more, and parents do not conquer but try to train their children, while the parents determine the goals of their development.

Based on this characterization of childhood modes one can categorize every autobiographer. The reasons for this categorization are not mentioned in this article and were discussed elsewhere.98 Table 2 and in the following two charts show a summary.

Both charts show that in later epochs there are in tendency toward higher psychogenic modes (chart 1) or personality structures with a higher level of integration to emerge (chart 2). Thus the data deliver evidence for the the hypothesis that childhood and personality structures in the examined spatial and temporal range change simultaneously and that both aspects coevolve. This kind of change with respect to the aspect of the superego can be outlined in greater detail when one contrasts the psychogenic approach of Lloyd deMause with Norbert Elias' thoughts about the process of civilization and confront both with the empirical summary of this article. DeMause asserts:

Rather than history as a victory for Morality, for the superego [Freud and Elias], you will discover why it is actually a victory of Desire and Reason, of the id and ego, over the superego.

Freud's idea that civilization proceeds by "progressively greater renunciation of instinct" was precisely backward; civilization proceeds only through progressively greater acceptance of the drives of children, allowing them to mature without defensive distortion.

Elias takes over Freud's ideas and presumes that in the course of history, seen as a process of civilization, the constraint of others (Frerndzwang) becomes internalized and leads to enhancing self-constraint (Selbstzwang). This self-constraint is connected according to Elias with a "greater control - of affect" of the individual and lowers the "spontaneity of the affective action." Both approaches become here shortened and reduced to some key-words, as follows DeMause asserts that in the historical course a better integration of superego-structures with simultaneous release of more ego-autonomy evolves. Elias in opposition asserts a growing amount of superego-structures suppressing the satisfying of instincts and impulses. Elias' opinion and his interpretations of his research are connected with the classical Freudian conception of the superego. Elias takes over the culturally critical or pessimistic view of Freud. DeMause deviates in this aspect from the Freudian conception of a historical change of individual psychological and collective psychological structures - he even asserts the exactly opposite direction of the development of psychic structures in the historical process.

The question as to which conception is empirically better proven would have to be answered by examining greater ranges of time. Based on the reconstructions of this article one can argue like this: The self-beatings of the mystics can be understood as the effects of an archaic, merciless and unintegrated superego that in regressed or dissociated states of consciousness become experienced in a personlike-hallucinative manner.

Triebabfuhr in the Freudian sense can only happen when this merciless superego simultaneously can be reconciled and satisfied. The genesis of this superego-configuration, this can be assumed here, is connected directly with traumatic real experiences, mostly with the own parents. The mystics are not understood here as persons with a too extreme id-equipment who permanently satisfy their masochistic partial drives (Partialtriebe), but as traumatized people who struggle for an integration of dissociated sadistic superego structures in countless self-destructive episodes.

Within the sample one can notice the following tendency concerning the problem of an enhancement or a decrease (Or: better or worse integration, respectively) of superego configurations: The mystics have - with one exception - a borderline personality where the superego is archaic, little integrated and cruel. Historically later follow narcissistic personalities like Soest and Butzbach, who are characterized by an extreme tendency for reacting insulted.

In contrast to the borderline personalities of the mystics, they show less autoaggressive and more heteroaggressive features. The according superego is still cruel, but clearly more integrated than those of the mystics. Felix Platter, suffering under castration anxieties, can be understood as a archaic-neurotic personality with a strict but not persecuting superego. Weinsberg's personality is the only one showing those modern features as can be shown by his individually developed scepsis against the existence of witches.

More archaic superego-formations to my mind are to be understood as stronger "self-constraints." They are inner forces that influence the actions and the experiencing of an individual massively. One has to say concerning the empirical evidence about the relation between personality and superego in this article that it is based on only one kind of sources - that is autobiographies, and especially of mystics, who were barely representative for the subjects of their time.

If one takes the rough orientation concerning the personality structures in this article as a hint to the state of the according superegos, than there is a tendency of a growing integration ot super-ego structures in me nis­torical course. Formulated differently: the children experience less deprivations and trauma; the formation of cruel superego-precursors gets milder or ends. The more empathic interactions between parents and children lead to a ich-gerechteren control of behavior and less self-constraint.

One can also presume that the self-constraints of all here examined historical subjects are developed massively and can be shown more drastic than one would expect for today's subjects. Maybe only Weinsberg might be an exception. One has to add, of course, that such an intuitive judgment is problematic and needs empirically based evidence. Anyway, it becomes clear that a hypothesis like Freud's and Elias's which asserts an enhancement of superego structures in the historical course is not supported by the empirical evidence of this article. The hypothesis of a decrease receives a certain amount of empirical evidence.

One can now reformulate the problem somewhat. The evidence of this article speaks for a decrease of infantile trauma and an enhancing parental empathy including a greater acceptance of the child's needs. If one assumes that harsher superego structures are based on more massive refusals, traumas and deprivations in the childhood, one can say that the empirically proven improvement of affective qualities of the parent-child relations allow ceteris paribus a better integration of superego structures and a greater acceptance of the infantile instincts.

Thus, the conception of deMause concerning a overall trend of cultural development becomes supported while the assumptions of Elias must be doubted. The theoretical conception of Elias suffers from the inner contradiction that the affectively driven adults are in no way predestinated to accept the feelings of their social surrounding, among it their own children, to a greater degree. But, as Elias admits, because of the asymmetrical parent-child relation, the affectively determined actions of the parents can be done at the costs to the child and in the case of trauma the child must establish consequently his superego structures, activate and later pass them to the next generntion, a questioning of the theoretical of Elias's - and therefore also Freud's theory of civilization must be the consequence: Both approaches are, according to the reconstruction sketch here, logically incoherent.

A comment on a meta level of the here - outlined opposing one has to add that despite all differences of these two approaches there is an inner relationship between the approaches of deMause and Elias. The opposing here is literally based on this relationship and similarity. The contradictory ideas of both approaches can perhaps be cleared by a analysis of concepts, while the concept of the superego or the self-constraint, respectively, should be in the center of such a trial.

Elias has written on the psychogenic approach of deMause in an article.99 In it he supports largely the descriptive evidence of deMause. Both scientists are against an idealization of the family, and Elias writes:

The anachronistic insistence on an idealistic conception of the parent-child relation, like that of family relations in general, is one of the greatest obstacles standing in the way of a more object-adequate management of contemporary family problems. . . . When the power imbalance in families, and also the power imbalance between parents and children, decreases - and that is the developmental trend of our time - the situation changes. The people making up families are then tied to previously existing forms to a lesser degree than before, they are compelled to greater degree than before to work out a modus vivendi with each other through their own efforts, that is, more purposively.100

The described changes of the parent-child relations, also stated by Elias, can be summarized by the catchword "evolution of empathy." Childhood changes in a certain direction because parents change to an astonishingly high degree in a historical process of learning and thereby can understand and satisfy the needs of children in a more adequate way. The changed childhood produces historically new personality structures. This historically new staff has new wishes and anxieties, new defense mechanisms and abilities for happiness and changes the historical process.

DeMause presumes that the final cause of this change is based on the parents trying to work through in their relationship with their children anxieties stemming from their own childhood.101 By doing so, as deMause states, they arrive one step emotionally closer to their children, and these can accomplish the next step in the encounter with the next generation. This leads to a kind of accumulation of more empathic experiences of care in the historical process. This process can be understood as an evolution of parental empathy and thus an evolution of childhood. This evolution is correlated with an evolution of personality structures while it comes to an integration of superego structures.

This paper originally appeared in the The Journal of Psychohistory: Fall 2003, 31,2: 103-139.
It is available online with the permission of the author and Lloyd deMause, Editor of the Journal of Psychoistory.

Also by Dr. Frenken is: Childhood and Fantasies of Medieval Mystics

Psychologist Ralph Frenken, Ph. D. was born in 1965. He studied at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankurt/Main, Germany. His dissertation was on the history of childhood: "Kindheit und Autobiographie vom 14. bis 17. Jahrhundert: Psychohistorischen Rekonstruktionen" = Childhood and Autobiography from the 14th to the 17th century: Psychohistorical reconstructions).

The author's research interests include the history of childhood, psychohistory, psychoanalysis, qualitative methods, dream research and Gestalt theory.

He is Editor with Dr. Martin Rheinheimer (historian) Associate Professor at the University of Esbjerg (Denmark) of the series: Psychohistorische Forschungen (= Psychohistorical research) and a contributing editor of The Journal of Psychohistory.

Dr Frenken is presently working in child and youth psychiatry as a clinical psychologist and is licensed to teach (German: Lehrauftrag) at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, Department of Pedagogy. His e-mail address is:

Some of Dr. Frenken's publications include: (1997). The History of German Childhood through Autobiographies. In: The Journal of Psychohistory, 24 (4), S. 390-402; (1999). Kindheit und Autobiographie vom 14. bis 17. Jahrhundert: Psychohistorische Rekonstruktionen. 2 Bände. (= Psychohistorische Forschungen, Band 1/1 u. 1/2). Kiel: Oetker-Voges; (2000). Changes in German Parent-Child Relations from the Fourteenth to the Middle of the Seventeenth Century. In: The Journal of Psychohistory, 27 (3), S. 228-272; (2000). Die Psychohistorie des Erlebens: eine einleitende Programmatik. In: Ralph Frenken; Martin Rheinheimer (Hg.). Die Psychohistorie des Erlebens. (= Psychohistorische Forschungen, Band 2), Kiel: Oetker-Voges. (S. 7-19); (2000). Mystisches Erleben. In: Ralph Frenken; Martin Rheinheimer (Hg.). Die Psychohistorie des Erlebens. (= Psychohistorische Forschungen, Band 2), Kiel: Oetker-Voges. (S. 227-254); (2000). Childhood and Fantasies of Medieval Mystics. In: The Journal of Psychohistory, 28 (2), S. 150-172; (2000). Book Presently In Print: Frenken, Ralph (2002). Kindheit und Mystik im Mittelalter. Frankfurt am Main: Lang. 344 pages. ISBN: 3-631-38467-X.

NOTE: The ENDNOTES may be read here

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