Attachment, Play, And Authenticityby Steven B. Tuber
Pub. Date: 03/28/2008
Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
D.W. Winnicott is likely the most influential and evocative child therapist and theoretician who ever lived. His work provides the underpinning for much of the empirical and clinical enterprises regarding the developmental process over the past half-century. Using over 25 of his most thought-provokingindeed provocativeconceptual and clinical writing as… See more details below
D.W. Winnicott is likely the most influential and evocative child therapist and theoretician who ever lived. His work provides the underpinning for much of the empirical and clinical enterprises regarding the developmental process over the past half-century. Using over 25 of his most thought-provokingindeed provocativeconceptual and clinical writing as its base, Attachment, Play and Authenticity provides a systematic construction of his theorizing and then integrates it with his clinical work. The book begins with a description of Winnicott's unique ability to link Freudian drive theory with what we now call object relations theory by describing the newborn as a being with "predatory ideas" and the new mother as adaptively "preoccupied" with her baby. It then discusses the infant's innate need to "create" its mother; the dangers of a false compliance to an unreliable mother in order to survive; the dynamic dialectic between the baby's essential isolation and its need for others; and the capacity for hate as intrinsic to the humanization process. The role of play as the medium and hallmark of human potential, the creation of transitional phenomena to weather the aloneness of existence and the antisocial qualities inherent in the human condition are then all brought into play as pillars of his conceptual constructions. These themes are constantly interwoven throughout the book with an analysis of his clinical work, so that Winnicott as preeminent clinician sits alongside Winnicott as generative theorist.
- Aronson, Jason Inc.
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Table of Contents
Part 1 Preface Part 2 Acknowledgements Chapter 3 Overview Chapter 4 Dialectical Meaning-Making in Infancy Chapter 5 A Good Object Must be Found in Order to be Created Chapter 6 The True Self and False Compliance Chapter 7 We are Essentially Isolates, with the Capacity to be Alone Chapter 8 Using Objects and the Capacity to Hate Chapter 9 Integrating Theory with Therapy: The Case of Bob Chapter 10 The Meaning and Power of Play Chapter 11 The Mind, the Body, and the World of Transitional Phenomena Chapter 12 Hate in the Countertransference Chapter 13 The Antisocial Tendency Chapter 14 The Aims of Psychoanalytic Treatment Chapter 15 Winnicott as Therapist More than Theorist Part 16 Bibliography
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As a beginning therapist, I found this book to be one of the most wise and provocative resources I have come across, both as a source of clinical guidance for working with children and adults and as an intellectual work that infuses familiar theory with surprising new resonance. The author's close readings and vivid explications of Winnicott's ideas are organized around a number of core paradoxes - for example, the need to be found and the need to remain hidden; the need for relatedness and the need for a private, spontaneous self; the role of both love and hate in becoming 'real.' The book is then devoted to animating and 'playing with' these paradoxes, and to illustrating the startling creativity with which, given the right conditions, each person can negotiate these tensions with playfulness and authenticity. In addition to its clinical usefulness for therapists, this book is a joy to read, a lively meditation on what it's like to be a person, and a wonderful example of the ideals of creativity and play that it describes.
Steven Tuber is Professor of Psychology and Past Director, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology of the City University of New York at City College. His new book on Winnicott¿s work will be of great interest to play therapists. Of particular interest to play therapists is his Chapter 8, ¿The Meaning and Power of Play.¿ Tuber states on page 119, that Winnicott ¿believes that the ability to play is the benchmark for the entrance into a life of health and vitality.¿ Tuber explains Winnicott¿s notion of the duality of play, ¿It is the milieu in which the baby discovers her True and hence utterly private self and yet the means by which she engages others and develops support¿ (p.122). Another important Winnicott concept of play is ¿Playing thereby allows the child to consistently work on the boundary between illusory omnipotence and helplessness and thus has at its essence the quest for mastery over the inner and outer chaotic (that is, not yet understood) aspects of its experience¿ (p. 123). Tuber cites an essential characteristic of play in general emphasized by Winnicott, but in play therapy this quest for mastery over the inner and outer worlds, creating cohesive play and later verbal narratives out of the bewildering experiences of a young child is a quintessential task. Tuber also explains that play is about repetition play themes are endlessly repeated. This redundancy is most valuable to the play therapist because if we miss something the first or second time around, chances are it will come around again. This, however, poses a challenge to the parent, especially the mother who is typically the primary caretaker because she must attempt to maintain a ¿good enough¿ connection with the child in the face of boring, repetitions of play themes that may after a point become mind-numbing boring. Ending these play sequences often as a result of necessity involves as Tuber explains the ¿good-enough¿ mother learning to help the child make a difficult transition. Among many clinically astute and remarkable insights expressed by Tuber in this outstanding book is his comparison to the role of a child therapist in ending a play session. He states, ¿It makes me think immediately of what it is like to be a child therapist when the patient doesn¿t want to leave at the end of the session. These moments speak to how difficult it is to end the magic of play, to end the magic of relating, and for children who have had parents who have been experienced as unreliable, how frightening and/or depriving it is to end the therapy session. These children expect that the ending of the session will also not be reliably done, such that they won¿t get back to the pleasure of playing and the pleasure of relating¿ (p.124). Tuber goes on to explain that not wanting to end the session is a sign of hope in child therapy because it represents a wish in Winnicott¿s term of continuing the ¿good object¿ and a fear that the ¿good object¿ will not come back. Although the ¿good object¿ is viewed as unreliable there nevertheless is implied both the wish and capacity for relatedness. Tuber beautifully expands on Winnicott¿s concept of a holding environment and its crucial importance in the creation of the True self. But the very process of creating a true and separate self presents the young human with the ever present prospect of aloneness. Tuber eloquently elaborates on this point, ¿The capacity to be alone thus implies the need for relatedness. To the extent that the baby can evoke treasured people in its play, and use the play to engage imaginatively with these people in interactions that explore every type of affect the baby knows, then the baby can tolerate the aloneness and indeed come to thrive despite¿actually because of¿its awareness. We can also say that the capacity to create symbols allows the child to cognitively ¿hold¿ her parent more easily, creating a salve to combat aloneness¿ (p.127). The above examples are samples of the richness of insight a
Steve Tuber's 'Attachment, Play, and Authenticity' is brilliantly written, a true pleasure to read in its clarity, originality, and playful approach. Tuber's book is an especially welcome addition as a primer that makes Winnicott's complex and often-paradoxical ideas accessible to a wide range of readers. Tuber unpacks and explicates Winnicott's theories--including 'good-enough' mothering, the child's capacity to play, and the 'False Self'--through the use of examples from his own experiences as a clinician and as a parent. Tuber also draws on works of popular culture (J.K. Rowling and Bruce Springsteen, among others!) to illustrate the universality of Winnicott's ideas. I highly recommend this book to clinicians, parents, and anyone curious about the inner life of children.
Steve Tuber¿s book, ¿Attachment, Play, and Authenticity,¿ is an incredible resource not only for students of psychology, but for any mother or mother-to-be. Tuber transforms Winnicott¿s theories into accessible, everyday language and invokes familiar songs, lyrics, children¿s books, and other bits of popular media to highlight the manifold meanings behind every moment of mother-baby interactions. As recent mothers ourselves, we found Tuber¿s ability to capture and make come alive the subtleties of mother-infant interactions remarkable. He describes the importance of the mother¿s ability to mirror her baby¿s experience through her facial expressions, the particular ways in which the fluctuations of her mood contribute over time to her baby¿s development, and the importance of the mother¿s participation in baby¿s play¿all of which are vital parts of the new mother¿s everyday experience. Furthermore, this book ¿gives voice¿ to the infant, providing mothers with new ways of understanding the inner life of her baby and highlighting just how very psychologically alive their babies are. Winnicott is known for the idea of ¿good-enough mother,¿ and Tuber¿s repeated invocation of not only the inevitably but the importance of a mother¿s imperfect attunement to her baby is likely to resonate with and inspire confidence in mothers. So many new mothers feel overwhelmed with the 'rules and regulations' of new mothering provided by the myriad books and internet sites with ¿to-do¿ and ¿not-to-do¿ lists. It's incredibly reassuring to think that we need only be good enough, not perfect, and that the mother's effort to repair a ¿failure¿ is just as¿if not more¿vital for the infant's emotional development than attempting to provide a perfect attunement at all times.
'Attachment, Play, and Authenticity,' is a beautifully written primer by Steve Tuber on the work of Donald Winnicott, detailing the richness and clarity of his writing and ideas. Tuber starts each chapter by grappling with a paradox inherent in an aspect of Winnicott's work, and then wrestles with each paradox by delving deeply into a paper or two by Winnicott that is particularly illustrative of that idea. The chapters focus on key aspects of the text, and each passage beautifully illustrates Winnicott's evocative language and depth of thought. Tuber elegantly unpacks the density of Winnicott's ideas while constructing a narrative for the reader, with each theory building on the last, leading the reader to an integrated understanding of the developing internal world of the child. Tuber uses examples from his own work as a therapist, his experiences as a parent, as well as illustrations from classic children's stories that have become classics precisely because, as Tuber shows, they so perfectly capture the emotional dilemmas of childhood. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to delve into Winnicott's work this book is a must-read for therapists working with clients of all ages, as well as anyone who wants to better understand the emotional lives of children.