“Is it surprising, then, that the dethroned eldest, for such he is, may grow up obsessed with the idea of recovering and maintaining his lost position, his lost place of power and authority in the family?  “For this reason,” says Adler himself, “oldest children generally show, in one way or another, an interest in the past.  They like to look back and speak of the past.  They are admirers of the past and pessimistic over the future.  Sometimes a child who has lost his power, the small kingdom he ruled, understands better than others the importance of power and authority.  When he grows up he likes to take part in the exercise of authority and he exaggerates the importance of rules and law.  Everything should be done by rule and no rule should ever be changed … we can understand that influences like these in childhood give a strong tendency towards conservatism.”

Neil Beattie, Principal Medical Officer Ministry of Health, from ‘The Position of the Child in the Family and its Significance’, first printed in the October and November 1956 issues of the Nursery Journal