A Terror of Butterflies: Notes on Child Psychology

Freud introduced the idea that neuroses in adulthood have their roots in childhood trauma, and despite the fact that Freud's theories are now much more important to philosophy and literature departments in universities than psychology itself, we still basically think he's right about that connection - go through something traumatic as a kid, grow up, have what we now call issues.

It's been fun for me as someone who knows whole half-dozens of things about Freud to watch Plan C growing up.  The man couldn't have been more wrong about the whole idea that the infant is perfectly happy until it is forced to confront its separation from its mother (a stage usually associated with the development of language); that one is complete bullshit, as anyone who's been around a screaming infant vs. a relatively content toddler could tell you.  But, the trauma thing is more surprising to me.  From what I've seen, trauma or fear or even a peculiar kind of low-grade phobia seems built in, even without an actual event to trigger it.

Example: butterflies.

Plan C is terrified of butterflies.  She frequently reassures B or me as we put her to bed that we shouldn't worry, the butterflies won't get her, or, she tells us when she wakes up that there were butterflies in her room.  When she plays with her little people they have whole conversations about how the butterflies are going to get them.  This is a big part of her mental life.

Now, I am here to tell you that she was never attacked, molested, or harrassed by a single butterfly.  Not ONE.  She has other things she's afraid of for no reason as well, most immediately other kinds of bugs (albeit none as panic-inducing as butterflies.)  The point here is that it's almost like fear just welled up in her sometime after she turned 2 and found something to purchase on; the butterflies aren't the important things, it's just that it was butterflies where her innate terror focused. 

It's friggin' interesting.

(Watch, she'll grow up to be an entomologist who only eats nectar.)


Life and Times

Here's the latest:
  1. The Nervous will be recording a 7" record / digital EP thing at some point in the nearish future, hopefully around the end of June.  I'm very excited about this; it's been about 10 years since I did any recording, and I'm stoked to send the MP3 of our song Publish or Perish to all of my grad school homies.
  2. Remember that whole "brutal insomnia since I was about 13 thing"?  Latex mattress = sleeping like a rock.  IMHO, the expensive bed has already paid for itself.
  3. (Not that you asked, but...) week 3 of potty training.  Plan C very much gets it at this point, but we still have to run interference sometimes to prevent accidents.  She's graduating to undies this coming week.  Now if the poor kid's digestive tract would just produce poops that weren't the size and consistency of car batteries, she'd be in good shape...
  4. Gorgeous rainy how-it's-supposed-to-be spring weather in the last week has done much to revive my spirits.  We had our first rainy-day BBQ on Friday, which was great fun but did involve too much mud getting tracked into the house.  I'm thinking about making people hose themselves off from the waist down before they are admitted in the future.
  5. Three weeks of classes to go, then finals, then summertime!  Hot damn!