What constitutes a viable space for play?

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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?”

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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”

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?”

Lars and the Real Girl & Winnicott

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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

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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”