In between external and internal worlds: imagination in transitional space

Hollway, Wendy (2011). In between external and internal worlds: imagination in transitional space. Methodological Innovations Online, 6(3) pp. 50–60.



This article explores a kind of thinking based on emotional experience and imagination. Donald Winnicott, British psychoanalyst, locates creative thinking in an intermediate area. This idea of ‘in between’ offers the possibility of thinking beyond a set of troublesome binaries that concern psycho-social researchers: external and internal, objectivity and subjectivity, social and personal, positioning and agency, construction and reality. Taking the idea of an intermediate area between inner reality and external life, I use a few short extracts from one participant in a study on processes of becoming a mother to address two questions. How does ‘Jenny’ imagine her possible futures within the limits of her material and social circumstances when she discovers that she is pregnant? How can researchers use the fact that we are affected by our participants and by the data in order to enhance and not distort our understanding?

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