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Learning About Children from Literature

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: December 1998
Special Article: PDF Only


Which tells us more about children, behavioral science or the general literature? Actually, neither gave us much information until the last two centuries. Only since Rousseau's contributions in literature and Darwin's in science have accurate descriptions been offered. Now one can find presentations on the impact of physical characteristics and disabilities, family interactions, other social influences, and temperamental predispositions in both literature and science. The difference in treatment is that science describes in abstractions the general principles of human nature, while literature synthesizes vivid, coherent illustrations of whole, believable persons in all their complexities. Literature, moreover, has ventured into some areas that science has not. The complete pediatrician needs both sources of information for a well-rounded knowledge of children and their development.

Address for reprints: William B. Carey, M.D., 511 Walnut Lane, Swarthmore, PA 19081-1140.

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.