A little boy who cried in my reception
room thought he was going to have a bath, which prospect he did not
relish. He could hear running water in my film processing room, where a
tankful of films was washing. To him, running water meant only one
thing — a bath. This indicates how alive you have to be to thought
associations when dealing with impressionable little minds.
An impression in the conscious level of
thought may be associated with a memory lying dormant in the
unconscious mind. The memory can be connected with any of the senses. A
child may take an instant dislike to you simply because of the color of
your tie. It may happen that the doctor who gave the child an
inoculation wore one of similar hue. Smells, too, can have unpleasant
associations for the child. Photographers use chemicals, for instance,
whose smell might remind the child of hospital.
Photographic assistants sometimes wear
white coats which could add to the hospital association. Even without a
white coat I have had little boys come into the studio holding up their
arms for 'jabs'.
The sense of touch has associations, too. Some children soothe
themselves by feeling the texture of a particular kind of material —
maybe silk or lace.
Some thought associations are pleasant. I
have heard of a photographer who claimed that his greatest asset when
photographing children was that his face reminded them of a clown!
Children loved to watch toys sliding off his shiny bald head.
An apparently illogical fear may be a
'memory' of before the child was ever born. It is said, for instance,
that terror of animals has been traced to the mother being frightened
by an animal before his birth. Such is the incredible and fascinating
complexity of the mind.