The value and significance of things

It is good to note that Winnicot gives such high priority to the value of objects and things. Furthermore, he indicates that the changing significance of different phenomena and their real significance for the child must be the child’s decision and that this must be in accordance with the child’s development and progressive recognition of the world around him.

Acceptance of this ensures the child security and gradual recognition of the fact that things and situations have the habit of changing in this life and are never static.

There are many traces of and hidden references to Winnicot’s theory in other hypotheses and theories which are specially important sources for this book:

Winnicot’s three phases of “I” are in several ways reminiscent of firstness, secondness and thirdness in play.

The transitional phenomena can be described as phenomenological projects to which the child attaches aesthetic values about beauty, truth and goodness - because a child will not just accept “any old thing” as his transitional object.

The things must have value for the child. Both fantasy (the illusion) and reality (realities) are part of his concrete reality. The line between fantasy and reality is not always clear to the very small child. Learning to draw that line is a slow process which must be learned with the help of the compensatory significance of transitional phenomena.

Some transitional phenomena are concrete and look like the real objects. Other transitional phenomena are diffuse or abstract, bearing little resemblance to real objects. Both fantasy forms are in contrast to reality - and yet they are a part of reality.

It is not easy to feel totally convinced about Winnicot’s employment of Freud’s theory - applied here to the significance of toys for children.

But toys must be taken seriously because children take them seriously!

Winnicot’s is a typically 20th century theory concerned about changes in society and in the family unit. He is one among many. The others include de Mause (1977), Dencik (1988), Kline (1993), Philips (1986) and Postmann (1983).

There is a tendency to focus on changes away from a collective and towards a more distant relationship between parents and children on the basis of the significance of material things.

Winnicot then describes three concepts which include the 20th century’s best known animal universes: soft toys and farmyard animals.



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