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All that is human must retrograde if it do not advance.

—Edward Gibbon, 1788/1932, p. 862

Although the trajectory of human experience understandably evokes praise when advancing, in some instances, the more adaptive course of development may prove to be other than simply forward strivings. Various experiences may occur in life when regressive tendencies can potentially serve growth-inducing purposes. Such universal phenomena as sleep, play, humor, dreams, and artistic creations entail essential qualities of childlike states, yet each offers activity that may be in the service of an individual (Kris, 1952; Schafer, 1958). More often, however, regression proper is linked to developmental reversions that clearly represent movement in less than constructive and purposeful directions. Situations involving trauma or stress, such as the divorce of a parent, ...

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