Critical Review of

Preparing For Child Custody Cases

by Randall Watters

This section of the Watchtower's booklet is the "List of Source Material" that the Witness' attorney can use in an attempt to demonstrate that any irregularities that come from being raised in their social environment will not have any detrimental effect on the Witness child. The text of the booklet is always represented in black type font, and my comments are made in red. Most of my comments are contained in the sections designated as "sample responses" by the Watchtower.

Certain paragraphs throughout the booklet will be highlighted in blue and underlined, and is my way of conveying to you some counter points regarding what the Watchtower is saying. Just click once on the blue text, and you can read my comments on their statement.

Since almost all my references in challenging their stated position are taken out of recent Watchtowers from the last 15 years or so, and since every Jehovah's Witness can obtain the entire text of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines for the last 20 years or so, there is no need to photodocument their statements, for they can be verified by any Jehovah's Witness who has a library or their 1993 or 1995 CD-ROM of Watchtower publications. Quotes are reproduced for the benefit of the reader in order to see what they have said on the issue. Page numbers are indicated in green, after each page, for the sake of reference. If a paragraph is split by a page break, the page number indicator falls after the end of said paragraph, rather than in the midst of it, to facilitate reading.

Randall Watters


LIST OF SOURCE MATERIAL Professional Studies in Child Psychology


1. Freud, Child Observations and Prediction of Development, 13 Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 92, 97, 98 (1958) (emphasis added):

It was Ernst Kris himself who drew our attention to the hopelessness of such clinical foresight in what he had described as the first phase of psychoanalytic child psychology. While we knew no more of the predestined sequences of development than the libidinal phases and "some crucial conflicts and typical danger situations related to the maturational sequence" (p.87), prediction was not possible. There were too many unknown factors which determined the outcome of the child 's reactions to his experiences and their genetic, economic, and dynamic interrelations.... There remain a number of factors which make clinical foresight, i.e., prediction, difficult and hazardous. I name three of them here. (1) There is no guarantee that the rate of maturational progress on the side of ego development and drive development will be an even one; and whenever one side of the structure outdistances the other in growth, a variety of unexpected and unpredictable deviations from the norm will follow. (2) There is still no way to approach the quantitative factor in drive development, nor to foresee it; but most of the conflict solutions within the personality will, in the last resort, be determined by quantitative rather than by qualitative factors. (3) The environmental happenings in a child 's life will always remain unpredictable since they are not governed by any known laws.

2. Thomas & Chess, Genesis and Evolution of Behavioral Disorders: From Infancy to Early Adult Life, 141 Am. J. Psychiatry 9 (1984):

As we grow from childhood to maturity, all of us have to shed many childhood illusions. As the held of developmental studies has matured, we now have to give up the illusion that once we know the young child's psychological history, subsequent personality and functioning is ipso facto predictable.


3. J. Ziskin, Coping with Psychiatric and Psychological Testimony, 104, 105 (2d ed. Supp. 1977) (emphasis added):

The picture concerning reliability and validity of psychiatric and psychological evaluations remains grim, even in Tegard to clinical usages, let alone the more rigorous requirements for use in evidence. The current literature reflects widespread agreement that reliability and validity are unacceptably low.

4. H. Schaffer, The Growth of Sociability 15-17 (emphasis added):

Parents may be firmly convinced that the particular experiences encountered by their baby will mark him for good or ill for the rest of his life, but when we turn to scientific support for this assertion there is as yet not a single study available which firmly and without ambiguity demonstrates that a specific experience impinging at one particular point of time in early human development will leave permanent effects on that individual. Birth trauma, breast or bottle feeding, type of toilet training, swaddling practices-whatever their effects at the time, the lasting imprint of such events has not been demonstrated. The aphorism that the child is father to the man remains an article of faith rather than a scientifically supported conclusion.

What are the forces that come to shape infant behavior? Here we find one of the major issues that has been divided psychologists in the past into, on the one hand, those who see the child as essentially an inert blob of clay that must be molded by forces impinging upon him from the environment and, on the other hand, those who consider the child preformed and look upon development as largely an unfolding of inherent tendencies. It is easy to assert that heredity and environment must both play a part and there are few who would go against such a safe viewpoint. Yet in practice, and particularly so in relation to early development, we find the divergence of opinion a real and often a heated one.


5. Chess, Developmental Theory Revisited, 26 Can. J. Psychiatry 110, 111 (1979) (emphasis added):

The accumulation of research data in recent years has by now made it clear that our "inability to make empirical predictions about later personality from the early years" is indeed "efface of a developmental reality." These data have come most dramatically from the major longitudinal studies-the type of study which is uniquely suited to examine the issue of continuity over time. The same message has come from all (5-7, 18), reaffirming the findings of our own longitudinal studies. Similar conclusions have come from the two major comprehensive reviews of the recent literature by Sameroff (9) and Clarke and Clarke (I).


The data offer no firm support for the popular belief that certain events during the first year can produce irreversible consequences in either human or infrabuman infants (5).

6. Ellsworth & Levy, Legislative Reform of Child Custody Adjudication, 4 L. Soc'y Rev. 199 (1969):

In general, studies show no clear advantage for trained judges; psychologists are not consistently better or worse than nonpsychologists(e.g., secretaries, college students, nurses), and clinical training and experiences does not improve the accuracy of global judgments. If anything, clinical training and experience may be somewhat detrimental and reduce judgmental accuracy, or at least introduce systematic biases such as greater emphasis on pathology and less favorable prognoses. [Mischel, 1968: 116; see also Sarbin et al. 1940].


7. Dewing & Taft, Some Personality Characteristics of the Parents of Creative Twelve-year-olds, 41 J. Personality 81, 82 (1973):

A second demographic variable found to be related to creative ability was unusual religious belief. In particular, a disproportionately large number of highly creative children were Jehovah's Witnesses. Four children from the total sample of 394 were members of this sect, and all four showed high creative ability. The girl who gained the highest total score on the Torrance tests, and the girl who was the only child, male or female, to be included in the top 20 percent of all five performance measures, were both Jehovah's Witnesses.

8. Sanua, Religion, Mental Health and Personality: A Review of Empirical Studies, 125 Am. J. Psychiatry 1206 (1969):

What may be said at this point is that a substantial number of additional empirical findings would be necessary before any valid conclusions could be drawn as to the relationship between religiousness and mental health.


9. Frideres, Offspring of Jewish Intermarriage: A Note, 35 Jewish Soc. Stud. 156 (1973):

The results concerning the remaining dependent variables show that little difference is evident between children of mixed and homogamous marriages. The data relevant to this point does not substantiate previous research which suggested that children from mixed marriages would be more psychologically "unstable" than children from homogamous marriages.

10. Lynch, Mixed Marriages in the Aftermath of "Matrimonia Mixta", 11 J. Ecumenical Stud. 653 (1974} (emphasis added):

Both parents should actively participate in the religious upbringing of the children and not view the responsibility as one of passive "non-interference." Pedagogically as well as pastorally the combined religious influence of both parents is most important.

11. R. Mnookin, Child Custody Adjudication: Judicial Functions in the Face of Indeterminacy, Vol. 39, No. 3, 1975:

While psychiatrists and psychoanalysts have at times been enthusiastic in claiming for themselves the largest possible role in custody proceedings, many have conceded that their theories provide no reliable guide for predictions about what is likely to happen to a particular child. Anna Freud, who has devoted her life to the study of the child and who plainly believes that theory can be a useful guide to treatment, has warned: "In spite of . . . advances there remain factors which make clinical foresight, i.e., prediction, difficult and hazardous," not the least of which is that "environmental happenings in a child's life will always remain unpredictable since they are not governed by any known laws."


The difficulty making accurate predictions is shown clearly by a study undertaken by Joan Macfarlane and her associates in Berkeley, California. Using various tests and interviews, the Berkeley group, during a thirty-year period, studied a group of 166 infants born in 1929. Their objective was to observe the growth -emotional, mental, and physical-of normal people. As Arlene Skolnick observed, "Over the years this study has generated several significant research findings, but the most surprising of all was the difficulty of predicting what thirty-year-old adults would be like even after the most sophisticated data had been gathered on them as children."



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