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Weinstein, L. Shustorovich, E. (2011). Coherence, Competence, and Confusion in Narratives of Middle Childhood. Psychoanal. St. Child, 65:79-102.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 65:79-102

Coherence, Competence, and Confusion in Narratives of Middle Childhood

Lissa Weinstein, Ph.D. and Ellen Shustorovich, M.A.

Middle childhood is a pivotal time in character development during which enduring internal structures are formed. Fiction can offer insights into the cognitive and affective shifts of this developmental phase and how they are transformed in adulthood. While the success of beloved books for latency age children lies in the solutions they offer to the conflict between the pull toward independence and the pull back to the safety of childhood, the enduring stories for adults about children in their middle years can be seen as works of mourning for the relationship with the parents and the childhood self, but more importantly as attempts to transform their experience of middle childhood through the retrospective creation of a coherence that was initially absent. Thematic and structural elements distinguish two groups of stories for adults: the first appears to solve the conflicts of this period by importing adult knowledge and perspective into the narrative of childhood; the second describes the unconscious disorganizing aspects of this period, thereby offering readers a chance to reorganize their own memories, to make a coherent whole out of the fragmented, the confusing, and the unresolved.

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