Dear Doctor, 

We are worried about our 9-year-old son’s attachment to his blanket, which he has had since he was a baby. It is now a rag with threads hanging down. He keeps it under his pillow and sometimes touches it as if it is bringing him pleasure. We have told him it is childish and that the thing should be thrown out. He gets very anxious and says to leave him and his blanket alone. In all other ways, he is a normal kid. He has friends, does well in school and plays sports. He does not share the blanket secret when he has sleepovers. Is this normal for a boy his age?

Mom

Dear Mom,

In a word, “yes.” Maybe not typical, but not unusual.

Your son has given you good advice about his blanket, and I would stop speaking with him about it.

The psychoanalysts used the word “cathexis” to describe behavior that involves clinging to something. It means “fastened” in Greek. It fits in a way when children become attached to an object. The blanket is bringing him a kind of comfort. I know of no research or study to indicate harm.

A patient seen some years ago actually had a small clip of his childhood blanket in his wallet. I assure you that was rare. In my experience, children usually outgrow the need for a significant object.

As for now, leave the issue alone. Support him in his various life endeavors. Love him unconditionally, and this means blanket and all.

Undoubtedly, his wife will someday toss it for him. Just kidding!

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lllrsn@comcast.net.

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