“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”*

*from “Brideshead Revisited” (1945), by Evelyn Waugh.

https://merylalper.com/2011/06/28/transitional-objects/

From Wikipedia:

“Winnicott is best known for his ideas on the true self and false self, the “good enough” parent, and borrowed from his second wife, Clare Winnicott, arguably his chief professional collaborator, the notion of the transitional object…Winnicott divorced his first wife in 1949 and married Clare Britton (1906–1984) in 1951. A keen observer of children as a social worker and a psychoanalyst in her own right, she had an important influence on the development of his theories and likely acted as midwife to his prolific publications after they met.”

Hugh Rayment-Pickard wrote in the Church Times of 8 October 2008:

“…My own children have several dozen stuffed toys between them, all with their own names. My occasional attempts to “rationalise” the cuddly-toy population in the Vicarage are met with looks of horror, as the children clutch the fluffy things to their chests. Speaking to other parents, this situation is appar­ently entirely normal.

Of course, I had a teddy of my own when I was young, but the trend then was to shower all your devotion on one precious bear — like Aloysius, Sebastian Flyte’s companion in Brideshead Revis­ited. The fashion now is for pro­­m­iscuity: the more the merrier.

I realise that I will sound like Scrooge when I question whether this excessive acquisition of cuddly toys is healthy. It is not just the alarm­ing sums of money that get spent: it is the sentimentality that surrounds them. The point of them is that they feel good: they are all “soft”, “cute”, and “snuggly”.

Sentimentality is harmless until it reaches the point where it stops us from be­ing able to exercise genuine emotion, or blocks our ability to ex­plore complex areas of human feel­ing. I am not worried about my children’s attachment to cuddly toys, so long as they can still react with appropriate emotion to the suffering of others.

The psychologist Donald Winni­cott famously argued that cuddly toys are “transitional objects”, which guide us from childish attachment to our parents into a mature concern for others. If they work like this, all well and good, but I suspect that they can also cultivate sentimental attitudes that we need to unlearn in order to become responsible ad­ults.

Fluffy toys function as comforters, making us feel safe, loved, and af­firmed. As such, they are still essen­tially narcissistic, reflecting our own love back to us. Instead of respond­ing to the needs of another, we use cuddly toys to meet our own needs. It is dangerous when we start using this same emotional logic in our public lives…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: