The paper deals with the psychiatric assessment of personality in connection with the out-of-home-placement of children. The focus lies on the assessment of two children, who were both born out of wedlock and admitted by their guardians to the psychiatric child observation ward Brüschhalde in the Canton of Zurich in 1957 and 1972. The authors show how personality was conceptualised, recorded and evaluated in an in-patient context. The doctors examining the two children diagnosed «abnormal», or more precisely «neurotic reactions», which were triggered by «unfavourable social conditions» and led to developmental disorders. This was in fact the most common diagnosis at the Brüschhalde in those years.
The personality concept of child psychiatry represented a developmental concept which aimed not only at personal development but also at social assimilation. The most important prerequisite for a «normal» personality to develop, was and remained a «decent, harmonious family life». Out-of-home- placement of children was therefore not mainly based on the diagnoses, but on the evaluation of family background and the personality of the parents, especially the mothers.