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Origins of Possession: Owning and Sharing in Development


Philippe Rochat, Origins of Possession: Owning and Sharing in Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2014

Human possession psychology originates from deeply rooted experiential capacities shared with other animals. However, unlike other animals, we are a uniquely self-conscious species concerned with reputation, and possessions affect our perception of how we exist in the eyes of others. This book discusses the psychology surrounding the ways in which humans experience possession, claim ownership, and share from both a developmental and cross-cultural perspective. Philippe Rochat explores the origins of human possession and its symbolic development across cultures. He proposes that human possession psychology is particularly revealing of human nature, and also the source of our elusive moral sense.
The way in which we acquire and become attached to our possessions reveals both the similarities and differences between humans and other animals as psychological entities. This book discusses the psychology surrounding how humans experience possession, claim ownership, and share from both a developmental and cross-cultural perspective.

Comptes rendus

'Throughout his work, Philippe Rochat attempts to identify what is uniquely human. In this book he yet again moves one step closer to a truly intellectually satisfying description. Origins of Possession is essential reading for all those of us who are in the profession of working with the human mind, particularly when it is troubled and is at risk of losing its essential qualities of self-awareness and symbolization. It is a highly significant contribution which builds on Rochat's unparalleled depth of understanding of child development to deliver a view of the nature and experience of possession that transcends development and individual differences - and illuminates both - whilst striking very close to what lies at the core of our experience of ourselves and of others as sentient beings.' Peter Fonagy, Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Head, Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London
'This is a rare, unique, and exciting book that could not have been written except by a scientist who, like Darwin, has travelled to diverse places and made the insightful observations that open a new perspective on everything of concern to human psychology. Rochat probes a concept so central and pervasive that it is commonplace: possession. He develops a psychology that penetrates deeply into philosophical and ethical realms, and that raises questions that to my knowledge have not been raised before about issues relevant to the development of the most important aspects of social life, issues that pertain to something so basic that it drives sex and violence and has the potential to realign our understanding of economics, law and social formation, as well as individual existence.' Shaun Gallagher, Lillian and Morrie Moss Professor of Excellence, University of Memphis

'Philippe Rochat has been studying children across cultures with a unique combination of curiosity, empathy, and insight. This important book challenges our understanding of their psychology - and of human psychology generally - and opens new directions of research. A highly pleasurable and stimulating read!' Dan Sperber, author of Explaining Culture, and co-author of Meaning and Relevance

'One might think that the topic of possession is clearly delimited and somewhat specialized. In this masterful work Rochat shows that nothing could be farther from the truth. Possession, as Rochat conceives it, is an integral part of all of the most important aspects of human experience. A most enlightening piece of work - and a joy to read.' Michael Tomasello, Co-Director, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Identity, prejudice, and duplicity in development
01 octobre 2014 - 31 décembre 2014
31 décembre 2014
Philippe Rochat
Philippe Rochat