In this book the emphasis is on the childhood stages, otherwisethe section on generativity would of necessity be the centralone, for this term encompasses the evolutionary developmentwhich has made man the teaching and instituting as well as thelearning animal. The fashionable insistence on dramatizing thedependence of children on adults often blinds us to the dependenceof the older generation on the younger one. Mature manneeds to be needed, and maturity needs guidance as well asencouragement from what has been produced and must betaken care of.
Generativity, then, is primarily the concern in establishingand guiding the next generation, although there are individualswho, through misfortune or because of special and genuinegifts in other directions, do not apply this drive to their ownoffspring. And indeed, the concept generatively is meant toinclude such more popular synonyms as productivity andcreativity, which, however, cannot replace it.
It has taken psychoanalysis some time to realize that theability to lose oneself in the meeting of bodies and minds leadsto a gradual expansion of ego-interests and to a libidinal investmentin that which is being generated. Generativity thus is anessential stage on the psychosexual as well as on the psychosocialschedule. Where such enrichment fails altogether, regression toan obsessive need for pseudo-intimacy takes place, often with apervading sense of stagnation and personal impoverishment.Individuals, then, often begin to indulge themselves as if theywere their own - or one another's - one and 'only child; andwhere conditions favor it, early invalidism, physical or psychological,becomes the vehicle of self-concern. The mere fact ofhaving or even wanting children, however, does not 'achieve'generatively. In fact, some young parents suffer, it seems, fromthe retardation of the ability to develop this stage. The reasonsare often to be found in early childhood impressions; in excessiveself-love based on a too strenuously self-made personality; andfinally (and here we return to the beginnings) in the lack of somefaith, some 'belief in the species', which would make a childappear to be a welcome trust of the community.
As to the institutions which safeguard and reinforce generativity,one can only say that all institutions codify the ethics ofgenerative succession. Even ",here philosophical and spiritualtradition suggests the renunciation of the right to procreate or toproduce, such early turn to 'ultimate concerns', whereverinstituted in monastic movements, strives to settle at the sametime the matter of its relationship to the Care for the creatures ofthis world and to the Charity which is felt to transcend it.
If this were a book on adulthood, it would be indispensableand profitable at this point to compare economic and psychologicaltheories (beginning with the strange convergencies anddivergencies of Marx and Freud) and to proceed to a discussionof man's relationship to his production as well as to his progeny.