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Kaplan, L.J. (1974). Child Studies Through Fantasy. Rosalind Gould. New York: Quadrangle Books, 1972. xxiii + 292 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(2):308-309.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(2):308-309

Child Studies Through Fantasy. Rosalind Gould. New York: Quadrangle Books, 1972. xxiii + 292 pp.

Review by:
Louise J. Kaplan

Child Studies Through Fantasy is the result of a four-year observational investigation of the fantasies of middle-class nursery children. In addition to giving a verbatim account of some of their spontaneous verbalizations, with descriptions of their accompanying affects and motor behavior, the book demonstrates that the direct observation of children in their natural surroundings can enrich psychoanalytic concepts and theories. The psychoanalytic theory of superego formation is illuminated through these observations and the inferences and hypotheses they led to.

Rosalind Gould was a consultant to parents and teachers in an urban private progressive school. When problem children were brought to her attention, Gould impressed upon the teachers the importance of making verbatim accounts of the children's behavior and verbalizations. From these verbatim accounts one teacher noted the extent to which aggressively toned fantasy existed in very young children. Gould's study began with her determination to investigate the meaning of the teacher's observation. She wanted to investigate specifically the general thesis that fantasy in children serves as a primary integrator of cognitive and affective development. She hoped, therefore, that the study would reflect the coming together of cognitive and affective processes and that it would show how fantasy serves to integrate the intellectual and emotional resources of children.

During the next years Gould obtained over one hundred verbatim records of the fantasy expressions of three-, four-, and five-year-old nursery-school children. As she evaluated the observations, she perceived consistent trends both for individual children as they progressed develop-mentally (while maintaining idiosyncratic modes of fantasy content and expression) and for age groups as particular developmental progressions took on the look of psychological universals. To supplement the inferences she was making, Gould turned to Piaget's observational study of the cognitive growth of his daughter “J.” She reordered Piaget's data into consecutive longitudinal sequences that focused on J's fantasy expressions from eighteen months through five years.

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