A sparse-haired patient cuddles a baby doll, pressed upon her full bosom, her maroon-socked-feet crossed in front of her, her shoulders leaning against a wing-back chair. Around her, sit several generations of family in the front parlor of the nursing home. Sunday after Sunday, they regale her with stories, despite her vacant look. Yet she still remembers the feel of wee ones.

Indeed, dolls have a long history of companioning. In prehistoric times they were considered images of the soul and used in rituals. Archaeologists later found dolls made of clay, wood, or fur, entombed with children in Egypt, Rome, and Russia. And in ancient Greece, engaged women offered their dolls, in sacrifice, to the nymphs or to the goddess Diana, as they prepared for marriage.

Closer to our own time, doll makers in fourteenth-century Nuremberg, Germany, modeled them after children, monks, and women dressed in the fashion of the day. Other European countries, especially England, also took up this business, introducing them into their colonies around the world.

Thus in every culture, many girls clung to their dolls during the day and slept with them during the night. What stories fueled the imaginations of these girls? Enlarged their souls? Plummeted them into other worlds where they felt at home? Even stirred their maternal instincts? Might they be accessing the archetype of the Divine Child in their unconscious?

Thus the contentment of the sparse-haired women fondling her baby doll …