Transitional Objects, Hypnotic Phenomena and Personality Characteristics

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In the current investigation aspects of experience and personality in adult life were objectively assessed in relation to the childhood use of transitional objects. Experiences identified as characteristic of the "intermediate area" included those of deep and intense involvement. Hypnotic susceptibility, "absorption" phenomena, and personal interests and pursuits were measured as experiences representative of this realm. The study also sought to establish further correlative links between early use of transitional objects and adult personality traits and characteristics. Information regarding the early attachment to special inanimate objects was obtained through self- and parental-reports to questionnaires designed to survey parameters of object use. Attachment was operationally defined for four comparison groups included in the study (Primary Transitional Object Group, Secondary Transitional Object Group, Repression Group, No Transitional Object Group). The results revealed no significant relationships between the use of transitional objects and measures employed to assess intensity, depth, and quality of experiences. Significant patterns of personality characteristics were found, however, between the attached and non-attached groups. Personality traits of tension and arousal were demonstrated for both the Primary and Secondary Transitional Object Groups, while the Primary Transitional Object Group alone, additionally revealed tendencies to seek novelty and change. The No Transitional Object Group was found to demonstrate traits characteristic of a practical, no-nonsense attitude. The findings of the study were discussed from a developmental context emphasizing issues inherent in the adaptive process.

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