Play and Playfulness: Developmental, Cultural, and Clinical Aspects

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While the psychodynamic understanding of play and play's therapeutic potential was long restricted to the realm of children, Winnicott's work demonstrated the profound significance of the capacity to play for healthy mental functioning during adult life. Scattered writings of Erikson, Glenn, and Shopper notwithstanding, the early spark of understanding remained largely ill developed. In Play and Playfulness, the reader is offered an exciting and highly informative set of essays about the psychic area that lies between reality and unreality and between veracity and imagination. It is the area of paradox and creativity. It sustains the self, allows for ego-replenishing regressions, and adds to the joy of the vital and lived experience. This book provides an easy and readable passage to the valley of the transitional experience in which creative synthesis of reality and unreality leads to a world of vigor, enthusiasm, and liveliness. The cultural variations and the clinical implications of such an experience are thoroughly elucidated. The result is a volume replete with technical virtuosity, clinical relevance, and the basic and nearly self evident humane music of the day-to-day experience of life.

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Editorial Reviews

Henri Parens
Freud defined good mental health as 'the ability to love, to work, and to play.' We have devoted much time to studying our ability to love and to work. Our 'ability to play' has gotten short-changed and needs our attention. This clinically relevant and highly enlightening book takes us from child's play to adult play, from the development-stimulating power of play to its use in problem-solving adaptation, even to its outwitting and out-battling trauma, and to its application to loosening the rigidities of adversarial diplomacy. This richly informing, superb book takes us on a journey from childhood to-as long as we live. We must know this for clinical work!
Kerry Kelly Novick and Jack Novick
Monisha Akhtar's book brings together an impressive array of experts to demonstrate that taking play seriously deepens our clinical knowledge, enriches technique, and reclaims the psychoanalytic understanding that play is central to all human endeavors.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765707604
  • Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/27/2011
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Monisha C. Akhtar, PhD, is a faculty member at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia, PA. She maintains a private practice in Ardmore, PA.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Part I Development

1 Self-Other Action Play: A Window into the Representational World of the Infant Anni Bergman Ilene Sackler Lefcourt 1

2 Fathers and Play James Herzog 17

3 Adolescence as a Time to Play Christine Kieffer 33

Part II Psychopathology

4 Neurotic Inhibitions of Play M. Hossein Etezady 51

5 Normal and Pathological Playfulness Salman Akhtar 69

6 Remembering, Replaying, and Working Through: The Transformation of Trauma in Children's Play Monisha C. Akhtar 85

Part III Sociocultural Aspects

7 Cultural Pathways to Understanding Children's Play: Mythology and Folklore Daniel M. A. Freeman 105

8 Playing for Survival during the Holocaust Ira Brenner 129

9 Play and Creativity Lucy Daniels 145

10 Play and Track II Diplomacy Vamik D. Volkan 159

Part IV Technical Implications

11 Aggression in Children: Origins, Manifestations, and Management through Play Mali Mann 175

12 Play and Very Young Children in Object Relations Family Therapy Jill Savege Scharff 185

13 Playfulness in the Adult Analytic Relationship Melvin Bornstein 195

References 209

Index 223

About the Contributors 233

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