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transitional objects

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When i was pregnant, I said to myself, my baby should not get attached to a safety blanket or a teddy bear. Today, I wonder if I need to be so adamant, and if perhaps in depriving her of one, I am opening the doors for insecurity in her. Through my current studies of organizational psychology, I have come to a greater understanding of psychoanalytic perspectives. One person i have come to appreciate is Donald Winnicott.

You might find it strange that a business school and an organizational psychology degree looks at the unconscious and emotions, which are some of the primary facets of psychoanalysis. Yet it is this combination of clinical psychology in the corporate context that attracted me to this course in the beginning.

We looked at objects during one module. I could not quite grasp the idea until my professor said to me: “Perhaps your bears are your transitional objects, and that for you is the transitional space for creativity and play!”

So I looked into the concepts and put an academic spin to Bearapy — partly out of desperation to find some credibility for my ‘play’, and partly I am convinced we need to play more. The bears present a deeper influence than I thought and for the most part, a vindication for being called ‘childish’, to have 40 bears in a Bear room at the age of 34.

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My thesis centers around transitional. I am reading original texts of Winnicott on Playing and Reality. His premise is that transitional objects — teddy bears, blankets, or simply any toy or object that has emotional meaning — help infants understand the diff between reality and fantasy.  They learn to become individuals and assert their ‘not-me’ identity.

Simply put, the bunny I give my baby to hold when she naps and goes to sleep, serves its purpose of subjugating anxiety and in turn helps her learn the extent of her individuality and control.

Alain de Botton explains Winnicott more coherently than I can.

But my takeaway, as i read the works of these psychologists, and building on them to find applications in the adult world and corporate environment, is that there are a million ways to mess up your kids’ mental and emotional development.

What I think is right may not be. I can only do my best. Let my baby direct and show me the way. I can only guide and share my values and principles as I struggle to reconcile those that I was taught and those I learn and prefer. She will have to make her own mind. There is not much I can teach her in so far as she will teach me.

May I not be overly assertive. May I not be overly authoritarian.

It is up to my husband and i to decide what kind of parents we will be. A debate over a pacifier or not, a teddy bear or not, goes much deeper than a simple debate. There is a whole psychology to it. We will do what we think is appropriate.

My quest is for my baby to contain her playfulness and creativity, so that in the future, if and when she does experience any mental health problems, it would not be because of a lack of creativity. Thats all I can do.

We define our roles, our experience. Likewise, depression is something I take ownership for — acknowledging external influences but also knowing, that only I can change the way I respond to those influences.

I have been able to stay away from medication, but perhaps anti-anxiety chill-pills aren’t so bad if I do need them. I still fly into a flurry at the trivialest of matters.

Either way, it is up to me to take action.

(I just re-read my post, awful writing! But so be it, my brain is fried from writing the thesis. Please entertain my blurb…. )

One Response

  1. […] vulnerable at the moment. Have been feeling vulnerable for the last few months ever since I finished my thesis. Time to find some work – simply because I would like to work and satisfy my intellectual […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) is born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Play Consultant for corporates interested in creative change management and employee well-being using the psychology of playfulness.