'Little madnesses' are our most deeply felt enthusiasms, investments and attachments in the sphere of culture. The term was coined by the child psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, whose work on transitional phenomena grew out of his naming of the transitional object, and extended into preliminary explorations of the crucial role played by cultural experience in a life that feels satisfying. In our socially and culturally sanctioned little madnesses, everyone can find relief from the burden of having to maintain a clear boundary between inner and outer worlds, fantasy and reality, because it is in the space between them that we can find the enthusiasms and passions that excite our creative imaginations. This idea offers intriguing pathwaystowards understanding how we can engage effectively with the world at a public, social level without setting aside our inner lives, our emotions and our most deeply felt attachments. In Little Madnesses, writers, artists, scholars and experts in a range of fields and disciplines explore the idea of transitional phenomena and consider its potential to extend and deepen our understanding of cultural experience in mental and social life, focusing on the importance of space, place and boundaries in cultural experience; on how we can negotiate media use and cultural identity; and on the aesthetic and creative aspects of cultural experience. Topics covered include cult films, computer use, installation art, trips to the cinema, museums and galleries, the agony and ecstasy of making art and the significance of life stage in cultural experience.
Winnicott, Transitional Phenomena and Cultural Experience