Stories in the emotional and psychic life of children


* All children are different with their preferences to books and often display their preference in different manners for instance acting out parts of the book or re-reading the book often.

* There are different reasons as to why children like books including the following:

The "zeitgeist": the book is culturally popular or seen to be cool to read
The book is like another book the child likes by the same author
The book is easily digestable and comprehendable to a child of a certain age
"Personal matching": the child can relate to a character

* Psychic matching: there is some level of personal emotional investment in the story
--> perhaps because something in the story matches the child's personal life (perhaps not a direct link- perhaps a metaphoric or symbolic match)

* Inner and outer matching: difference between "phantasy" and "fantasy"
--> Phantasy: describes content of inner, emotional concious
--> Fantasy: describes the literary content of the story
--> Phantasy is matched with the symbolic/metaphoric meaning of the narrative

(further details of phantasy v fantasy:


Phantasy is a state of mind of an infant child during the early stages of development.

They are largely unconscious in that they are not differentiated from conscious reality. In their early, pre-linguistic existence, infants differentiate little, if at all, between reality and imagination.

Phantasies stem from genetic needs, drives and instincts. They appear in symbolic form in dreams, play and neuroses.

They are constructed from internal and external reality, modified by feelings, and emotions, and then projected into both real and imaginary objects.

Phantasies are the means by which infants make sense of the external world and hence relate to it through Projection and Introjection.

In Klein’s concept, phantasy emanates from within and imagines what is without, it offers an unconscious commentary on instinctual life and links feelings to objects and creates a new amalgam: the world of imagination. Through its ability to phantasize the baby tests out, primitively ‘thinks’ about, its experiences of inside and outside. (Mitchell, 1986)


Fantasy is a reverie, a daydream, an imagined unreality that anyone can create.

We fantasize consciously about future possibilities and fulfilment of our basic needs and wishes.

Fantasies may well include elements of the deeper unconscious phantasies.


Klein's view

Klein was particularly interested in the early psychological development. She saws phantasies as prime motivators and thus as important forces for development.

For Klein, unconscious phantasies underlie not only dreams but all thought and activity, both creative and destructive, including the expression of internal object relations. They modify external events, investing them with significance.

"Infantile feelings and phantasies leave, as it were, their imprints on the mind, imprints that do not fade away but get stored up, remain active, and exert a continuous and powerful influence on the emotional and intellectual life of the individual" (Klein:1975:290)

Phantasies satisfy instincts by converting them into ideas and images. Hunger leads to a phantasy of an object that can satisfy it.



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