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Johnson, C. (1995). A statement about play and adults in analytic psychotherapy. Free Associations, 5(1):103-110.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(1):103-110

A statement about play and adults in analytic psychotherapy

Carlotta Johnson

There are many approaches to the notion of play and I will start this discussion of my experiences with some thoughts from a varied range of speakers and writers.

To begin with are some sentences from a dockworker/philosopher called Eric Hoffer:

The pattern of unfinishedness should be the most pronounced in the autonomous individual …; The retention of youthful characteristics in adult life endows man with a perpetual playfulness so fruitful of insights and illuminations. (Hoffer, 1952, p. 153)

Then there is Donald Winnicott who surprised me by the fact of his writing about play when he was seventy years old. He was so interested in “the place” in which one works, lives, engages in culture, has relationships to people and objects, to this wide arena in which life lives and is lived. He led an inquiry into the overlaps between play, psychoanalysis and culture. By some who knew him intimately he was considered to have some of the characteristics of a clown.

Formlessness—a ticking over of the unintegrated personality … a non-purposive state …. If the analyst is not able to play he should not be working …. (Winnicott, 1971, pp.

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