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Hannett, F. (1965). Children Tell Stories: An Analysis of Fantasy: By Evelyn Goodenough Pitcher and Ernst Prelinger. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1963. Pp. 256. $4.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:278.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:278

Children Tell Stories: An Analysis of Fantasy: By Evelyn Goodenough Pitcher and Ernst Prelinger. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, 1963. Pp. 256. $4.00.)

Review by:
Frances Hannett

This book is a report of a fascinating study done on 147 children of nursery school and kindergarten age. The object of the study was to analyse 'some aspects of childrens' elaborations of their fantasies as they became manifested in stories spontaneously told by them'. While the content of the stories revealed much id material, the primary concern of the investigators centred in the characteristic modes of fantasy elaboration as an index for determining ego development. The authors concluded that fantasy, similar to any other form of behaviour, was overdetermined. A series of categories, predicated on theoretical ideas about ego development, were set up and the stories classified accordingly. Discussion and interpretation of their findings follow.

Some examples of the many interesting observations are: that as the child matures the utilization and mastery of space is increased; main figures in the stories become less clearly differentiated from other characters and at the same time take on more internal complexity; more happens to the characters of the story; and there is a greater capacity for imaginative elaboration of their fantasies. Sex differences are less clear than age differences but there are hints that boys 'intrude further into space', exaggerate the qualities of their characters and endow them with more activity while the stories of girls are '… more contained, stationary, and intensive'.

This book makes a unique contribution to the field of child study. It should be especially useful to those for whom observations bearing on ego development are important but it will also prove to be an enriching experience for all who work with pre-school children. Even those who deal with adults will find a new dimension added to their clinical observations.

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