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Isham, M.K. (1921). Example of Displacement of Original Affect Upon Play. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:430-431.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:430-431

Example of Displacement of Original Affect Upon Play

Mary K. Isham

A pretty example of how a child occupies or sublimates in its play feelings or impulses which it has been forcibly hindered from expressing in a cruder way recently came to my notice. A father was telling me the following story about his little son who is very headstrong. The boy is three years old, exceedingly sturdy, active, and aggressive, and must be almost constantly supervised on account of his surprising impulses. Last fall when his father and mother went to the cemetery for their yearly decoration of the family graves, they took the child with them. In one part of the family lot is a long slab lying horizontally and marking the location of graves of ancient members of the family. The parents of the child started to place flowers on this slab. He did not approve and vigorously threw on it a handful of earth which he had gathered from a neighboring newly made grave. Although told to stop, he kept pelting the slab with earth. As nearly as the father can remember, the boy was scolded, shaken, or slapped seven or eight times for persisting in this conduct. Finally his father had to hold him forcibly, while his mother finished decorating the graves. The child was very angry, although quiet on the way home and seemed to forget the incident by evening.

The next morning he went out-doors to play. His mother happened to look out of the window and saw that he had dragged a long board from the back to the side yard and placed it flat where the grass was especially green and thick. He then vigorously pelted the board with one handful of earth after another, until it was completely covered. Then he carefully brushed the earth away. His mother saw him do this four times, but he had been engaged in the occupation some time before she looked out.

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