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Bergman, A. (1993). To be or not to be separate: The Meaning of Hide-and-Seek in Forming Internal Representations. Psychoanal. Rev., 80(3):361-375.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Review, 80(3):361-375

To be or not to be separate: The Meaning of Hide-and-Seek in Forming Internal Representations

Anni Bergman, Ph.D.

Suddenly I come out from my hiding place. I do him the favor of being born. He sees me, joins in the game, changes expression, and raises his arms to heaven: I fill him to overflowing with my presence. In a word, I give myself.

Jean-Paul Sartre1

Hide-and-seek is a universal childhood game that I hope to show serves an important function in the task of every human being to create an internal world with a variety of self and object representations. In a recent paper entitled “Self-Other Action Play” (Bergman and Lefcourt, 1993) I, along with Ilene Lefcourt, describe the earliest play experiences between mother and baby that promote the baby's most rudimentary sense of self and other. These games of early infancy create a mutually regulated action dialogue between mother and infant, which in turn provides the foundation for what we call self-other action play. This is play in which themes of self, other, and self-with-other predominate and in which the formation, transformation, and interrelatedness of self and object representations take place. We believe that such play contributes to the formation and integration of self and object representations in a unique way. Self-other action play eventually leads to the capacity for role play, which requires at least rudimentary ability to take the perspective of an other.

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