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Dissertation

Transitional objects and behavioral adjustment: The child's journey to individuation

1 October 1982

Abstract

The child's use of transitional objects is well known in the psychoanalytic literature. The question of whether the transitional object is a healthy phenomena or a pathological one has been debated but not resolved. This study was designed to investigate four items. First, it examined the overall adjustment of children with and without a history of attachment to a transitional object. Second, it compared the overall adjustment of children who used the transitional object frequently with the overall adjustment of children who used it rarely. Third, it examined transitional object use and adjustment while controlling for three covariates, which were the mother's locus of control, the mother's attitude towards the child's individuation, and the father's involvement in the child's parenting. Fourth, it examined frequency of transitional object use while controlling for the same three covariates. No difference in adjustment was found in children with transitional objects versus children without transitional objects. There was a trend for children with transitional objects to have better self-adjustment. No difference in adjustment was found in children who had used the transitional object frequently versus children who used it less often. Controlling for three covariates, the relationship between transitional object use and adjustment was found to be non-significant. Controlling for three covariates, the relationship between frequency of use of the transitional object and overall adjustment was found to be nonsignificant. The child's use of a transitional object was found to be related to the mother's attitude towards it and to the number of separations from the mother. The child's overall adjustment was related to the mother1s locus of control, with better adjusted children having mothers with an internal locus of control. There was a relationship between the child's home adjustment and variables indicating the family's involvement with religious beliefs and activities, and with the child's home adjustment and the father's involvement in the child's parenting.


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