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Peller, L. (1958). Reading and Daydreams in Latency, Boy-Girl Differences. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 6:57-70.

(1958). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 6:57-70

Reading and Daydreams in Latency, Boy-Girl Differences

Lili Peller

The three- to four-year-old child who wishes to be a great general, a doctor or a mother can without delay become that person, possibly supporting his magical thinking (denial in fantasy) with some token, a soldier's cap, a doctor's bag or a doll. He plays with abandon, without self-consciousness. With the beginning of latency this avenue does not become blocked entirely, but it grows narrower. Latency brings several changes: now the playing child adds realistic features to his play, his imagination carries him further and thus his play changes in two dimensions, becoming more realistic and yet more imaginative. But fantasy and reality do not float into one another all the time, as they did in the earlier years. The acting out of fantasies becomes labeled "make-believe play, " with a clearly marked beginning and end. Fantasies more and more replace role play. Within a short time the psychological household grows far more complicated and daydreams become an essential release. Finding his own daydream woven into a story multiplies the release—the child can enjoy his own, his personal fantasy without feelings of guilt, shame, reproach. (This function of "the poet's" work is of course not latency-specific: we watch a play or read a novel in order to reap the same benefits.) Yet the fantasy which originally guided his attention toward the story usually remains the child's secret.

In child analysis the child acts out or relates his fantasies. Sometimes we may gain access to fantasy material through his choice of a story or a joke he tells us.

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