Is there such a thing as too much play? Part 2

In an earlier post, I wrote about the contradictions we in modern society have about play. On one hand, we trivialize play and see it as a waste of time, only appropriate for children, not for adults who should be attending to more serious matters. On the other, we express nostalgia for an era when there was more time for undirected play.

The work of psychoanalyst Paul Verhaeghe offers a framework for understanding this ambivalence and our split views about play. Continue reading “Is there such a thing as too much play? Part 2”

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Is there such a thing as too much play?

The debate about how much play is enough  is one carried out in the popular press, where experts and non-experts alike weigh in. Writing for the New York Times Magazine, Melanie Thernstrom reflects on the question from a personal point of view when her daughter is invited to the home of a friend from preschool, whose father has made a project out of being a free range, non-helicopter parent. Continue reading “Is there such a thing as too much play?”

Two Winnicottian Podcasts

Two podcasts featuring Winnicott  offer listeners very different ways of thinking about human engagement with ideas, each other, the outside world and ourselves. Each asks Winnicottian questions about how an individual identity is constructed in relation to human and non-human objects and about how human thought and creativity emerges. Continue reading “Two Winnicottian Podcasts”

Lars and the Real Girl & Winnicott

lars-at-the-window

In the opening credits of Lars and the Real Girl, protagonist Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) is pictured looking out of the window of his garage apartment, warming himself with a blanket that we later learn was knitted for him by his mother when she was pregnant with him. In this close-up of his face, the blanket covers his mouth, so the only indication of his state of mind is the expression of his eyes. The feeling is somber, intensified by the apparent cold temperature. In the frosty window pane is the reflection of the dark and cloudy sky. The film opens with the shot of a lone man, one we will soon learn is terrifyingly lonely, and with a cold feeling, mediated only by the soft, handmade blanket. Continue reading “Lars and the Real Girl & Winnicott”

Drinking, Play & Identity

I have written in an earlier post about how depriving human beings of opportunities and spaces for play leads to increased stress, anxiety and depression.

According to Ashton Katherine Carrick, a senior at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, stress that begins in high school, with the imperative to spend all available time preparing a college resume, follows young adults right into college. In a New York Times op-ed piece , reflecting on her experience as a college student, Carrick observes that stress is the cause of drinking to blackout. Continue reading “Drinking, Play & Identity”

Mothers & Infants

mother-and-infant
Image by Bob Whitehead

This beautiful family photograph, posted on Flickr by photographer Bob Whitehead, offers an idealized look at the mother/infant relationship. Composed such that the mother and infant comprise the entire field, the image emphasizes the importance, in our culture, of motherly love. The emotional bond between this mother/daughter pair is emblematized in the “eskimo kiss,” noses touching and in the open mouth smiles of both members of the dyad. Continue reading “Mothers & Infants”

Play, Identity, & Mental Health

Can we become who we are without play or is play is essential for the formation and development of human identity?  I am particularly interested in how play opens up a space for creativity, a space in which we can potentially transform our identities.  If we create ourselves, and play nurtures creativity, how might our identities emerge from a self-directed engagement with play? Continue reading “Play, Identity, & Mental Health”

Play v. Learning: Are they really so separate?

In my last blog post, I noted that we seem to have conflicted ideas about what constitutes good and bad sorts of play and also what the importance of play really is. Some concern about play seems to revolve around an assumption that playing takes time away from work and learning; if we allow children too much time for play, therefore, their learning will be compromised. On the other hand, some play researchers argue that learning is actually enhanced by play, both directly and indirectly. Even this perspective, however, seems to ignore (or lack understanding of) the critical role psychoanalysts believe play has in the very formation of identity. Continue reading “Play v. Learning: Are they really so separate?”

Welcome!

D. W. Winnicott, whose work I will profile in this blog, theorized that play, which exists in a transitional space between reality and fantasy, promotes growth and facilitates creativity, making it fundamental to the development of human culture. A psychoanalyst and pediatrician, Winnicott wrote about the development of identity in the context of relationships and stressed the importance of a facilitating environment for the growth of a healthy child. Continue reading “Welcome!”