by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin
If parents and bosses administered praise oftener, the psycho-analysts would get a rest from the overwhelming rush of patients suffering from inferiority complexes.
For we must bask in the warmth of approval now and then; otherwise the health of our self-respect becomes seriously endangered.
As a rule, husbands are blinder than wives to this need in the home. A survey of rural life uncovered one general complaint made by women living on farms. As the wife of one prosperous farmer expressed it:
"Maybe when I'm a hundred years old I'll get used to having everything I do taken for granted. As it is, life comes pretty hard when you don't heard a word of thanks for your efforts.
"Sometimes I feel like copying the woman who served her menfolk cattle fodder one day for dinner, after waiting 20 years for a word of praise. 'I've never heard anything to make me think you'd know the difference' she told them when they said she must be crazy."
It's a curious thing how many men, who never fail to notice other women, let their own wives go year after year without a compliment.
Dr. I.S. Wile, who had wide experience in dealing with difficult children, once told me of a particularly interesting case which made him realise the need of praise as a practical doctor's prescription.
"It was a case of twin boys. One was particularly bright but the other seemed mentally inferior. The father asked me to find the reason.
"When I had gained the child's confidence he told me the story children almost invariably tell in such cases."
"Why don't people like me the same as they do my brother?" he asked. When he does anything, they smile. When I do anything, the frown. I can't ever seem to do anything as good as he does."
"I separated those boys as much as possible," said Dr Wile. "I had them placed in different classes at school. I told their parents to stop using comparisons as a goad upon the backward one, and to praise him for his own little accomplishments. He was soon standing on his own two feet."
Lack of praise is evident in business offices, too.
One New Year's Day a millionaire of my acquaintance, whose pride it was to never offer praise for any service, faced an unforgettable tragedy. His chief accountant committed suicide.
The books were found to be in perfect order, the affairs of the dead man -a bachelor- were prosperous and calm. The only letter left by the accountant was a brief note to his employer. It read:
"In 30 years I have never had one word of encouragement. I'm fed up."