What is the origin of security objects in young children and indeed, into adulthood when they remain at the individual’s side?
When a baby is born, they do not have the concept that they themselves are separate from everything else and have not individual identify. All their needs are met by their mother (or similar adult presence) but as they do not see the mother as a separate person, they feel independent and powerful that if they need something, that need will be completed.
On growing and developing, the realisation is that the mother is in fact a separate individual and with this comes the realisation that they are dependent not independent, which can feel like a loss and at this stage children can become anxious when apart from their mothers.
An object can often bridge this gap, as a transitional object…. the first object that a child recognises as not being part of their own self, it becomes a symbol of the mother and alleviates the anxiety of separation such as a blanket or soft toy.
Donald Winnicott wrote his paper on “transitional objects” and later on asked Charles Schulz for permission to use the famous character of Linus and his security blanket as an example of his theory.
The transition in Winnicott’s “transitional object” refers to the shift every infant must make, as he wrote, “from a state of being merged with the mother to a state of being in relation to the mother as something outside and separate”.
As a child develops the transitional object can change and may even become an abstract such as religion as a comfort or an external object such as a mobile phone.
In one 2011 study it was found 35% of British adults still sleep with a teddy bear. Most people will keep these secret as it shows their vulnerable side.
Linus still continues to be an icon with his security blanket, breaking into a sweat when he cannot find it.
He made sucking your thumb and holding a blanket OK but also being of great intelligence.
You can be childish AND clever.