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?

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

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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”

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 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?”