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Spitz, E.H. (1988). Picturing the Child's Inner World of Fantasy—On the Dialectic Between Image and Word. Psychoanal. St. Child, 43:433-447.

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(1988). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 43:433-447

Picturing the Child's Inner World of Fantasy—On the Dialectic Between Image and Word

Ellen Handler Spitz, Ph.D.

CURRENT INTERDISCIPLINARY LITERATURE IN THE HUMANITIES ABOUNDS with fascination for the analysis of signs and sign systems. In particular, there is a resurgence of interest in the distinguishing characteristics of, and relations between, words and images. When these issues are discussed by philosophers, the discourse often turns on questions of representation. Is representation achieved by resemblance or analogy (the modes usually postulated of imagery), by contiguity or convention (the modes associated with language), or by causal connection (as in demonstration)? Functional distinctions such as the density of the image versus the differentiation of the linguistic sign have been noted (Goodman, 1976). Efforts have been made (Gombrich, 1956), (1963), (1981) to tease apart the relative contribution to both verbal and pictorial signs of biology (nature) and convention (culture). Speculation on the effect of experiential differences between the categories of time (associated with words) and space (associated with images) has been linked with the differential reliability attributed to the evidence of the eye (as witness) versus that of the ear (hearsay). Such philosophical discourse, with its venerable tradition extending back into the pages of Platonic dialogue,


Visiting lecturer of aesthetics in psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College.

This paper was written while the author was visiting scholar at the Sigmund Freud Center of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Early versions were presented in Jerusalem at the B'nai B'rith Children's Home at the invitation of Dr. Yecheskiel Cohen and at the Ilan Child Guidance Center at the invitation of Dr. Rami Bar Giora. For insights that have found their way into the final version of this paper, the following colleagues are gratefully acknowledged: Gannit Ankori, Bettina Stronach, David Kittron, Amnon Toledano, and Michal Grossman.

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