Review of The Unadjusted Girl by W. I. Thomas

George Dearborn

THE UNADJUSTED GIRL, with Cases and Standpoint for Behavior Analysis. By William I. Thomas. With a Foreword by Mrs. W. F. Dummer. Boston. Little, Brown & Co., 1923. Pp. xix+261. Price, $3 net.

"The Unadjusted Girl" is the fourth volume in the series of Criminal Science Monographs, authorized by the American institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, the others being Healy's "Pathological Lying, Accusation and Swindling''; Gliick's "Studies in Forensic Psychiatry"; and Kammerer's "The Unmarried Mother". To the last-mentioned the present volume bears a certain amount of superficial resemblance, but with distinct values of its own, in the constructive direction especially.

Fundamentally, the book marks another step in the general recognition of the old dictum, older than Socrates, that to understand all is to forgive all, that care and cure, not punishment, are due the girl who has a baby for the cradle before she has a husband for her home. Mrs. Ethel S. Dummer (the mother, in a sense, of the pioneer Chicago Juvenile Court), summarizes very much in a paragraph: "The fundamental function of woman being motherhood, this with its secondary manifestations, explains much of her behavior. The devotion of the young girl to the cadet who enslaves her reveals the same instinct which holds a wife faithful through difficul-

(181) -ties and degradation—the instinct from which have developed the virtues of loyalty, endurance, and self-sacrifice. The period of pregnancy should be (if the imagination be not filled with old wives' tales), one of health, exhilaration, development of psychic values and social consciousness. Any woman experiencing this wonderful functioning should be aided to as complete psychobiological fulfillment as her personality and the social situation permit. Should the higher love and association of the father of her child be lacking, so much the greater is her need of genuine help and encouragement. Given this, she may be strengthened and stabilized whether the man desert or become disaffected before or after a legal ceremony."

Even at the risk of quoting too extensively, the following paragraph is presented as basal to this work with girls and to all future social service of the sort. Without its leading idea little can be done to systematically adjust the sexes to each other. "A method of investigation which seeks to justify and enforce any given norm of behavior ignores the fact that a social evolution is going on inn which not only activities are changing but the norms which regulate the activities are also changing. . . . Thus fifty years ago we recognized, roughly speaking, two types of women, the one completely good, the other completely bad—what we now call the old-fashioned girl and the girl who had sinned and been outlawed. At present we have several intermediate types—the occasional prostitute, the charity girl, the demi-virgin, the equivocal flapper, and in addition girls with new but social behavior-norms who have adapted themselves to all kinds of work. . . . But none of these girls, neither the orderly nor the disorderly, is conforming with the behavior-norms of her grandmother. . . . The movement contains disorganization and reorganization, but it is the same movement in both cases." (Thomas.)

About a hundred case-histories are given and discussed in this thoughtful book. What a wealth of feminine psychology abounds in a varied collection such as this! and psychology in some respects more practically useful than that revealed by the grubbing of psychoanalysis rather under sometimes the second sub-basement of the mind. Besides the interesting and constructive Foreword by Mrs. Dummer, there are six chapters and a good index. Chapter one considers the wishes, deemed by the author to be of four types: the desire for new experience, the desire for security, the desire for response, and the desire for recognition. Chapter two considers the regulation of the wishes, and goes what looks like positively the logical limit of the conditioned: reflex idea in suggesting that female virtue is maintained to a considerable extent by associating the sneer, incipient amesis, with female unchastity. "Here were the end had anything an end." The third chapter deals with "the individualization of behavior." In it are some of the most striking case-histories, unlike the "run'' of these, some of them prose-poems of human nature. Chapter four relates some of the conditions of the "demoralization of girls"; five, certain facts as to active social agencies; and chapter six, "the measurement of social influence".

Altogether, this book is an important one for applied sociology and

(182) one as significant for many parents of "growing'' girls as for social service and psychology. Its breadth is needed in multitudes of homes and in every institution.

U. S. Public Health Service Reserve, New York.


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