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(1970). American Imago. XXV, 1968: Passive Mastery of Helplessness in Games. Martin D. Capell. Pp. 309-332.. Psychoanal Q., 39:160-161.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XXV, 1968: Passive Mastery of Helplessness in Games. Martin D. Capell. Pp. 309-332.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 39:160-161

American Imago. XXV, 1968: Passive Mastery of Helplessness in Games. Martin D. Capell. Pp. 309-332.

This paper contains a striking hypothesis about the one-and-a-half-year-old boy, described in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, who developed the game of throwing a spool into his cot and retrieving it by a piece of string tied to it as a reaction to his mother's departures. Freud was puzzled by the losing part of the game although he suggested the child was reversing roles, putting himself in the position of controlling the mother's coming and going. Capell assumes the mother had previously retrieved objects the child had cast out of the cot,

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a common game played by infants and their parents. Thus casting the spool is a repeating of the behavior which had caused the mother to respond before. Capell sees this attempt to evoke a response from the object as an expression of passive mastery which he defines as 'a mode of overcoming difficulties by influencing powerful external objects to give one what is needed'.

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Article Citation

(1970). American Imago. XXV, 1968. Psychoanal. Q., 39:160-161

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