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Gentile, J. (2013). From Truth or Dare to Show and Tell: Reflections on Childhood Ritual, Play, and the Evolution of Symbolic Life. Psychoanal. Dial., 23(2):150-169.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 23(2):150-169

From Truth or Dare to Show and Tell: Reflections on Childhood Ritual, Play, and the Evolution of Symbolic Life

Jill Gentile, Ph.D.



The game starts with all players in a central location. One player is given the designation of “it.” There are two portions to the game: the hiding—all the players, except “it,” locate a place in which to hide, and the seeking—“it” attempts to locate at least one of the players. The overall objective is to not be discovered by “it.” (“Hide-and-Seek,” retrieved from Wikipedia, November 30, 2008)

In his 1963 essay on communication, D.W. Winnicott evoked this familiar children's game to capture the poignant plight of the child who longs for a sacred zone of privacy even as he wants to share and be known. “It is a sophisticated game of hide-and-seek in which it is joy to be hidden but disaster not to be found” (p. 186) .

In her 1994 article “Love in the Afternoon,” Jody Davies finds herself with her adult male patient, Mr. M, in a paralyzing dance of secrecy, privacy, and unspoken—even unthinkable—desires. Davies describes her particular entanglement not only with her patient but with psychoanalysishistory and with its ensnaring legacy—a legacy stemming from the analyst's so-called quest for “neutrality” and from implicit (and, at times, explicit) demands for handling countertransference and erotic desire in a private, undisclosed manner. In parallel, Davies’ patient, Mr. M, has his own zone of privacy and shame, his own unmentionable erotic desire.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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