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Tip: To review the bibliography…

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It is always useful to review an article’s bibliography and references to get a deeper understanding of the psychoanalytic concepts and theoretical framework in it.

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Blumenthal, E. (2009). Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age. By Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005, 210 pp., $33.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(1):257-262.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(1):257-262

Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age. By Dorothy G. Singer and Jerome L. Singer. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005, 210 pp., $33.00.

Review by:
Ellen Blumenthal

Psychoanalysts take it as a given that play is essential to the emotional development and well-being of young children. Whether in words or in action, “play” is an important component of the relationship between patient and analyst. Adults' verbalized free association and the analyst's facilitating responses, or children's free play and the child analyst's participation in the narrative, are part of encouraging freedom and openness in patients' ability to know themselves and to expand the possibilities for deeper and richer consciousness. What follows, we believe, is emotional growth.

A book about play and the creative imagination that begins with the first stanza of Emily Dickinson's “I Dwell in Possibility” (c.1862) will surely command the interest of psychoanalysts.

I dwell in Possibility—

A fairer House than Prose—

More numerous of Windows—

Superior—for Doors—

A metaphor for poetry, consciousness, the psychoanalytic process and more, the poem leads us to ask, as do these authors, what enables the development of human consciousness. This book, by Dorothy Singer, Senior Research Scientist in Psychology, and Jerome Singer, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, both at Yale, introduces and reviews concepts of consciousness, imagination, creativity, and play in child development. The authors explore the roles of play and television viewing, violent themes in play, children and computers, and the important role of play in early academic and social learning. They write in the epilogue, “We tried to suggest that our adult consciousness, imagery, and potential creativity could be traced to the emergence in childhood of pretend or make-believe play” (p. 163). Their target audience seems to be, in addition to mental health professionals, concerned parents, educators, and pediatricians. The book is eminently accessible and readable.

The authors succeed in their aim of demonstrating how and why guided symbolic play encourages emotional, social, and cognitive growth, with results that persist into adulthood.

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