Selma Fraiberg, social worker and psychoanalyst, would have been 100 on March 8. I still give her book, The Magic Years, to new parents as it remains, even after nearly 60 years, a rich and thoughtful exploration of the inner lives of infants and young children. Based in a deep understanding of child development rooted in psychoanalytic theory, Fraiberg, always empathic with the experience of parents, uncovers the meaning of early childhood behavior and offers parents a framework for civilizing their children in healthy and nourishing ways. Fraiberg is also remembered for her seminal article, “Ghosts in the Nursery,” which has been … Continue reading Selma Fraiberg, born March 8, 1918
I have argued here that play emerges in a transitional space, a space between inner and outer, between me and not me, and between me and you. I have focused on play as an intersubjective phenomenon, but what about play that occurs when someone is alone? Continue reading “What constitutes a viable space for play?”
Between 1943 and 1962, D. W. Winnicott gave over 50 talks broadcast by the BBC. In these talks, given for parents (actually, primarily for mothers), Winnicott discusses what he has observed between mothers and infants and elaborates his theory of human development. Continue reading “Listen to Winnicott”
I interviewed Chris Goedecke, of the Wind School, about the relationship between play and identity in the Dojo. Continue reading Podcast: Transitional Space in the Dojo
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”
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?”
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”
Click here to see a timeline that features the major figures in the history of the play therapy and offers a brief introduction to their theories. Continue reading “A Brief History of Play Therapy”
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”
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”