To live and enjoy every day to its fullest, use my gifts to help others, I travel to wherever passion finds me.

What Will She Paint?

So many friends I met here...!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This post was inspired by one of my readers comments reminding me on something that psychologists call an"object of significance." Already early in life it starts when young kids can't go to sleep without their favorite stuffed animal, or carry their blankie around with them. It's so typical and endearing that cartoonists like Charles Schultz has the character Linus sucking his thumb and dragging his blanket behind him in his series of Charlie Brown just doing exactly that.

so tired after play

Object Constancy
Why do children do that? It has to do with "object constancy." which means that when I don't see you, you cease to exist. Now you understand why children follow their parent around, or start crying when the latter leaves the room. To them they or things cease to exist, whenever not in view.
With time object constancy develops, meaning that I know my car still is there, even though I have closed the garage, and I can't see it.

clinging to grandfather

One of the strategies is when children are in a period that they are upset or have a lot of nightmares, you can give a photo of the parent to the child to carry with them. Actually it is a strategy that also works with grown ups. When someone lost a significant person in their life, relative or friend or pet, it helps them to "get over" the loss quicker when they carry a pic or a significant object of that person with them.

Another concept in overcoming loss is "separation anxiety." People, and not only children (!) need a feeling of belonging. There is more of a likelihood of depression and a host of other emotional disorders when people are alone in the world or have feelings of abandonment.  

Separation anxiety 
is literally someone becoming anxious when someone leaves. I remember that during my graduate training  then toddler became accident prone as soon as I dropped him off at day care. 
When I alerted the day care people, they were very good in making it a big deal when I would leave, and assuring my child that I would come back. After a few weeks no more incidents.

A feeling of belonging 
is more than living in the same house. There are families where people live under one roof but are estranged from each other, as the phrase "strangers in the night" (as the song of Frank Sinatra) so well puts it. They are like passing trains, boats or planes as another song's lyrics say. 
Let's cross the street together, Buddy

It's very important for our emotional well-being that we have at least one person we are attached to. Even better would be that one has a circle of friends (not acquaintances, but friends!).
Do you know someone who lives alone, or someone who is lonely? (These two are not synonymous. Someone can live alone, but not be lonely, and another can live in a house full of people and feel terribly lonely). 
If you know someone who seems lonely, be his or her friend!


DawnTreader said...

Interesting post. But have to mention that I find the colours in this layout (blue on blue) a strain on the eyes and difficult to read.

I think the internet is my blanket! Usually knowing that it's there is enough. Yesterday it disappeared for me without warning,(around 18 hrs) and that was not a comfortable feeling at all, not knowing how long it would be gone. It's not that I have the computer on all day, and certainly not while I sleep. But there is a comfort in the knowledge that it's there when I want it. And discomfort in knowing yesterday evening that it wasn't... (Luckily it's back now.)

rainfield61 said...

Interesting. I think this rarely happens to adults.

Clytie said...

You are so right. I have been on both sides of the fence - alone (not lonely) and lonely (not alone). Thank you for this very insightful post!

jeannette said...

After seeing your comment I tried a bigger font -if it's still hard to read, let me know!
I can imagine, when one is limited in traveling or shut in because of the weather, it's nice to have a blog to visit friends:)

You might be surprised, but then of course because of my job I see a lot other people don't get to see or experience.

When you have been in both situations, you are probably one who offers friendship readily!

DUTA said...

Your distinction between lonely and alone is very accurate.
There are ,however, lonely people who, for some reason, prefer it that way, and they are not nice to people who try to befriend them. I suppose they are a minority.

Linda Higgins said...

nice to post this. My grandson age 4 says he has bad dreams at night, and wakes every single night crying, so my son put his t-shirt on him and told him that the t-shirt was his protector shirt. As long as he wears it to bed daddy's protector t-shirt would protect him. He no longer has bad dreams. Once in a while he has even forgotten to wear it and has been ok. This little ones are so fragile....

BryM said...

That was absolutely awesome...and so true! Having lost both my mother & grandmother (I was very close to both) has been made a little easier by keeping things around my house that remind me of them. :)

Whitemist said...

Then I am very blessed with many people I am connected or attached to. It may be why i have managed with this interesting recovery process.

Nora said...

This resonates deeply with me.

Icy BC said...

Interesting post and full of wisdom.

Rudee said...

Thank you for writing such a meaningful post.

As I sit and watch the inner workings of my new neighborhood, I am touched by the following things:

My next door neighbor is out on the boulevard of my street almost daily. He tends to the flowers, the trees and rids this space of weeds. His work makes the boulevard beautiful for all.

The woman who lives directly across my street is single and teaches emotionally impaired Detroit school children. Every Tuesday, she mows her own lawn, and that of the hoarder who lives next door. When she is finished, she crosses the street to mow the lawn of the 95 year old man who lives on the corner. I'm struck by the fact that, yes, she is caring for others, but she is also caring for herself by reaching out. It's an interesting neighborhood of closely knit people.

I couldn't have known this when I picked this house out in the dead of winter, but something just felt right about the house and the block.

Lucky me.

DawnTreader said...

Jeannette, I always have to enlarge all blogs to be able to read them. (Using ctrl+++) But colour schemes play their part too. This is not the best of combinations for me but it might be for someone else, you can't please everyone ;)

jeannette said...

You are right-you can't force someone to do the right thing, or to be your friend -these are people who still need to resolve some conflicts within themselves...

Such an endearing story about your grandchild! And the imaginative solution of his father - I love it!

Happy that you can relate to this (in writing this there was some wondering if this was not too "technical/psychological"!:)

It ring so true what you say. It's often in the hard times we come to know who or friends are.

Thank you!Who knows one day you'll find something interesting to write about that you really WANT to post;)

Icy BC
Thank you for visiting my blog! I enjoyed yours:)

Sounds like people there are taking care of each other -sounds you are glad you ended up there:) And it also sounds a safe neighborhood...Am glad for you!

You have more eyesight problems than I realized (probably than most of your readers realize). So my guess is that glasses can't fix that problem...

Diane AZ said...

Sweet pictures. I remember my security blanket was actually a stuffed cat with long sheep's wool. I was alone a lot as a child, but didn't feel lonely. My mother says I was always good at amusing myself.

Now that I think about it, I do know of someone who seems lonely even though she doesn't live alone. Thank you for your post!

young-ecletic-encounters said...

This was a timely post for me and my family. My #8 grandchild was just diagnosed with Autism and issues of comfort and separation and belonging are taking on new meaning as we all learn to look at the world from his point of view.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

(well lessee, if you buy the sock monkey socks from the company in Iowa, it comes with instructions on how to make the stuffed monkey--there is also a book someone wrote of dozens of different toys to be made with the socks! If you google sock monkey socks, you will be on your way :)

Paul C said...

What a meaningful post about being alert to loneliness around us. We can provide that sense of belonging in small ways. Thanks.

jeannette said...

You're welcome, Diane! Sounds a cute security blankie:)My oldest daughter has that gift too (fortunately, since she was an only child for seven years).

Fortunately, they now know more about autism than 10 years ago. Depending on how severe the autism is, a lot can be done before they become adults. There are also support groups for parents -take care, dear friend.

Hey, thanks so much, Gary! I appreciate the info:)

Paul C,
Thank you, Friend!I am alert to these issues, because I'm a therapist -they "all" come to my office:)