On Thu, 1 Feb 2001, Weisskirch, Rob went:

> ... I think the real reason it received so much attention is because
> it appeals to the Baby Boomer psych-types. [I am aware I am opening
> up a can of generational worms].  For Boomer parents who have kids
> who, well, uh, didn't turn out exactly how they anticipated rejoice
> in Harris' assertion that parents don't really matter.  Yes, blame
> the peers.  Peers do the socializing.  Parents, as long as you are
> generally good to them, have little influence.  Boy, does this lift
> the burden on parents as the culprits for less-than-ideal kids.

I'm not convinced that this accounts for much of the attention given
to _The Nurture Assumption_.  I think the book got attention because
its ideas were startling and yet somehow resonant with many people's
experiences.  For me, that resonance had nothing to do with being a
Boomer parent (I'm only 34 and currently childless-by-choice); it had
to do with my being one of three siblings who, despite seemingly
similar parenting, are each very different (though each generally
happy and successful).

>From a more detached perspective, I thought Harris did an excellent
job of exposing the weakness of the evidence behind the nurture
assumption (even if I didn't buy every detail of her group-
socialization hypothesis, wherein teenage culture is transmitted down
the generations like a jumprope rhyme).  Since having read the book, I
no longer swallow facile statements about Upbringing A leading to
Adulthood Trait B.  It's got nothing to do with blame or credit; it's
a matter of critical thinking.

Half-tangentially, this thread reminds me of the following fascinating

Widom CS, Weiler BL, and Cottler LB. 
Childhood victimization and drug abuse: a comparison of prospective
and retrospective findings.
Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 67(6):867-80, 1999 Dec.
 This study examined whether childhood victimization increases risk for
 drug abuse using prospective and retrospective victimization
 information. Substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect from 1967 to
 1971 were matched on gender, age, race, and approximate social class
 with nonabused/nonneglected children and followed prospectively into
 young adulthood. Between 1989 and 1995, 1,196 participants (676
 abused/neglected and 520 control) were administered a 2-hr interview,
 including measures of self-reported childhood victimization and drug
 use/abuse (the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule--Version III--
 Revised). *Prospectively*, abused/neglected individuals were *not* at
 increased risk for drug abuse. In contrast, *retrospective* self-
 reports of childhood victimization *were* associated with robust and
 significant increases in risk for drug abuse. The relationship between
 childhood victimization and subsequent drug problems is more complex
 than originally anticipated.  [emphases added.  --D.E.]

--David H. Epstein, Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience
  former lecturer, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
  Staff Fellow (i.e. postdoc), National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD
  Staying on TIPS because I intend to return to teaching someday.

[THERE's yer .sig, Stephen.]

Reply via email to