Tip: To search for text within the article you are viewing…
PEP-Web Tip of the Day
You can use the search tool of your web browser to perform an additional search within the current article (the one you are viewing). Simply press Ctrl + F on a Windows computer, or Command + F if you are using an Apple computer.
For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.
Jucovy, M.E. (1954). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953: Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena. A Study of the First Not-me Possession. D. W. Winnicott, Pp. 89-97.. Psychoanal Q., 23:611-612.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXXIV, 1953: Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena. A Study of the First Not-me Possession. D. W. Winnicott, Pp. 89-97.
An intermediate phase may be observed in early infancy between the first use of fingers and thumbs in autoerotic activities and the later playing with toys and dolls. The author introduces the terms 'transitional object' and 'transitional phenomena' to designate this area of experience which includes early babbling sounds and the use of objects, such as bedclothes, not yet clearly recognized as belonging to the external world. Out of random activity there usually emerges a specific object or pattern of behavior which then becomes vitally important to the infant in warding off feelings of anxiety or depression. It is through the relationship with a transitional object, which though it is symbolic of the breast is nevertheless real in itself, that the first steps are taken toward reality testing and the abrogation of magical, omnipotent control. In normal development the fate of the transitional object is to become gradually decathected, and transitional phenomena spread over the cultural field. In pathological development, transitional objects and phenomena may be linked with such symptoms as addiction, fetishism, pseudologia, and obsessional rituals.
The theory of illusion-disillusionment is developed by Winnicott, illustrating what he considers to be the main function of transitional objects and phenomena. At first a mother's complete adaptation to an infant's needs gives the infant the illusion that there is an external reality which corresponds to its own capacity to create a 'something' that can relieve instinctual tension,
- 611 -
the illusion that the breast is part of itself and therefore under magical control. If this illusion is successfully established a good internal object (Klein) is created, and the mother can then begin to disillusion the infant, lessening her adaptation as the infant's capacity to tolerate frustration increases. Transitional objects and phenomena, belonging to a realm of illusion, represent a neutral area of experience allowed to the infant in which no decision has to be reached as to whether something was internally conceived of or externally presented. It is through this use of illusion that a meaningful relationship can begin between the infant and an object external to itself. Throughout life this area of experience provides refuge from the strain of relating inner and outer reality, and contributes greatly to artistic, religious, and creative experience.