Psychological concepts I love — Object Permanence

3 min readApr 23


The activities of the newborn baby are a wonder of their own. From being a blank, innocent, curtailed, confused, and cute bundle to developing sensory functions, motor abilities, perception, and language, infancy is such an exciting and complex period to study. Right from the moment the baby is whisked out of the mother’s womb, it is exposed to the vastness of the world. Slowly, through various stages and processes, it begins to comprehend the environment around it, gaining knowledge from each action. One such important concept that the child develops during these first few months is the mental representation of objects and events. That is, if a child plays with a pen, the image of the pen and the incident of playing with the pen will be recorded and stored in the child’s brain. but not enough for it to recognize its absence. If the pen is taken away, a one- or two-month-old kid won’t know the difference and will have forgotten the entire image and the event. This is where the concept of Object Permanence, in the Theory of Cognitive Development by Jean Piaget, becomes important. Object permanence helps the child realize that objects exist in the environment even when they are out of reach and outside of vision range. The baby understands that the physicality of a thing remains even if it is taken away, hidden, or not seen through the naked eye. The same pen, if given now and, say, hidden under a blanket, will make the child immediately go fetch it. See, now the child has formed representational thinking and will know that an object will exist even if it’s not near you.

That’s why parents play peekaboo with their children—to help them develop this skill and to make them understand that, “Yes, I may be gone for a second, but that doesn’t mean my existence ends right there. I’ll be back. See. Peekaboo. I’m right here. Haha. You cute little munchkin

I correlate this fantastic concept with how adult friendships work. After college, obviously, we and our gang of homies can’t hang out the way we used to. Getting placed in different cities, forming new relationships with the team members there, branching out and entering into a new life, changing priorities, a time crunch, and being knee-deep in work; But it is not the end. Despite the lack of frequent communication, the bond of friendship will remain—just the way you left it. A single phone call, a single text, or a single meme is sufficient to restore the fraternities of the good old days. Just because your friends are out of your sight or out of your reach doesn’t mean that they are lost forever in your life. The time spent together will be etched in their hearts; the love is there, ready to pick up where it left off. The mental representations of the memories will brew a warm cup of nostalgia, and you can reminisce and find solace whenever the going gets tough. You don’t need to text-bomb them. You don’t need to call them constantly to make sure they’re okay. You don’t need to plan a meetup every weekend. You don’t need to overthink. There’s no need for separation anxiety.

Believe in the permanence of healthy relationships.

I read this beautiful quote in one of the Tumblr accounts that haunts me, and yet a glimmer of hope grows in my heart like a moonflower unfurling its petals in the gloom of the night.

Heartworm (a noun)

a relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.

-John Koenig, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows