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Playing and Reality (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Robert Rodnam , D.W. Winnicott
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 Jan 2005 Routledge Classics
What are the origins of creativity and how can we develop it - whether within ourselves or in others? Not only does Playing and Reality address these questions, it also tackles many more that surround the fundamental issue of the individual self and its relationship with the outside world. In this landmark book of twentieth-century psychology, Winnicott shows the reader how, through the attentive nurturing of creativity from the earliest years, every individual has the opportunity to enjoy a rich and rewarding cultural life. Today, as the 'hothousing' and testing of children begins at an ever-younger age, Winnicott's classic text is a more urgent and topical read than ever before.

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Playing and Reality (Routledge Classics) + The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (Penguin Psychology) + Home is Where We Start from: Essays by a Psychoanalyst
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Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (20 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415345464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415345460
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Winnicott was the greatest British psychoanalyst who ever lived. He writes beautifully and simply about the problems of everyday life - and is the perfect thing to read if you want to understand yourself and other people better." - Alain de Botton

About the Author

D.W. Winnicott (1896-1971). A renowned psychoanalyst and theorist, whose profound and original thought has had a lasting influence throughout the world. He was President of the British Psycho-Analytical Society and President of the Paediatric Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Summary of a life's work 8 Aug 2012
By Graham Mummery TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this book having found the authors more famous work The Child, the Family, and the Outside World (Penguin Psychology) was not for me. Nothing to do with the writing: Winnicott is an excellent writer. Not having been a parent, I just couldn't connect with it, something that is perhaps amplified by the fact that the earlier work is more addressed to mothers.

"Playing and Reality" was a different matter, being more scholarly. This is not to say that it is unapproachable, just identifying what qualities are on show. Indeed Winnicott is a most approachable figure. Humane, urbane, some times humorous, he make a refreshing change from the Germanic intensity of some psychoanalysts (e.g. Freud, and Klein), reminding us, for example, that no parent is perfect, though some, maybe most, are instinctively "good enough."

The concept of the "good enough parent" was not the only idea he introduced into psychoanalysis. Ideas such as the transitional object and the importance of play were pioneered by Winnicott and are discussed here and their importance in an infants adaptation to life. Later he discusses the basis of cultural experience, and the role of the Mother.

All in all this is an elegant summary of Winnicott's ideas by the man himself, of use both to student therapists in their studies as well as to the general reader.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winnicott - Playing and Reality 27 Feb 2011
By Alice
Very readable. Covers transitional phenomena, dreaming, creativity, object relating, mirror role of mother /child, cultural experience and aspects of adolescent development and implications for higher education.Arrived promptly and in perfect condition - well protected in post.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book to learn about child development 25 July 2011
Dr Winnicott took us through another way to learn about child development. I would recommend this book for those who are interested in child development or just wanted to know more as a parent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. 22 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The defiitive book on child psychology!Excellent.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
119 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profound Opening into the Origins of Love and Culture 14 Oct 2003
By Franz Metcalf - Published on Amazon.com
I am sorry to be so blunt about this, but previous reviewers Sierra and whomi do not appear to have really grasped Winnicott's work in this book (Sierra really has no clue at all). I have to respond at some length. But better to just read the book.

Winnicott (henceforward DWW) creates--in an enormous leap away from Freud--a vision of the complex and beautiful relationship of the infant and primary caregiver. In fact he speaks of the "mother infant dyad," rather than two separate persons during the first few months of life. From this union, if all goes well, the child gradual emerges and develops a sense of self through a process of disillusionment by the mother, in doses the infant can withstand.

As this occurs, the child symbolizes the lost union with the mother in what DWW calls "transitional objects" and begins, with the comfort of these objects, to begin to play in what DWW calls the "potential space." We might call it the realm of culture, of love, and of religion. Only with successful caregiving does the child have a chance to fully develop as a person, and DWW shows, in loving detail and case histories, how this happens through the devotion of the mother.

This is why DWW's work is vital not merely to psychoanalysts, but to every person on this planet. His work has influenced two generations of therapists, theorists, and educators and, indirectly, every one of us. Further, his work has increasingly been supported by developmental insights gained from attachment theory and other experimental and verifiable studies.

I don't normally write reviews on amazon.com, but I could not let foolish misreadings by other reviewers stand unchallenged. Sierra's attitude is not only condescending, it is lazy. Enough said. As for whomi, I appreciate the thought there, but DWW *does* allow for gradual disillusionment through experience of the external world. If whomi missed it that does not mean it is not there. As for using Derrida to read DWW, I imagine that is useful. Go to it, if you like. But let's not forget that the work of Lacan is inconceivable without DWW, and the work of Derrida inconceivable without Lacan.

DWW indisputably and deservedly stands as one of the most influential psychological thinkers of the 20th century. Further, his use of language is simple and yet always provocative, finding new depth and meaning in the simplest of words.

Please consider reading DWW and judge for yourself.

Franz Metcalf
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creativity and play 17 Jan 2008
By D. Miles - Published on Amazon.com
First of all, this book is written for psychoanalysts. One of the other reviewers clearly hated it and summarily dismissed it as "not even worth thinking about." For someone not used to reading dense psychological text, this book would be tough to follow. Honestly, Winnicott is hard to follow even if you are used to reading dense psychological text. He's not particularly concise and often uses certain terms without explaining them. For example, he speaks about the infant's need to "destroy" the transitional object, but also to see the object survive the destruction. I interpret that to mean something about learning object permanence, but he's never clear.

Having said that, I really like this book. It's a collection of essays and speeches and so isn't meant to be a completely coherent argument from start to finish. The chapters I like the best are where he develops his theory of play and creativity. In short, infants learn to distinguish themselves from their environment by having a "potential space" where it is safe to explore and play. Being able to be creative is how human beings discover their true, authentic self. And this is especially important for a developing infant.

Winnicott contributed a significant amount to the field of object-relations therapy. I really dig his work, and his theory of the significance of play in the work of analysis not only makes sense to me, but also adds a level of fun and creativity. His written work is dense, and most of it was published in journals, so it can be hard to sift through. But I like this book the best ("Human Nature" is second). The concept of discovering your true, authentic self through play and exploration is a pretty liberating idea even as an adult, and Winnicott provides some solid developmental theory here to back that up. If you're studying Winnicott or object-relations, this is a great book to read.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did you discover that? No. Did you create it then? No. 1 Jun 2011
By Thomas L. Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Winnicott was a strange, playful genius. The hugeness and flexibility he shows in this book is astounding. He's tossing around super-profound philosophical ideas like oranges and catching them in reverse order; leaving an idea undeveloped at the end of a chapter, and ending the chapter essentially with a good hearted laugh. I can almost see him laughing his way through certain parts of the text.

I give this book five stars because the ideas contained in here are going to continue to bear fruit in so many ways. We have been waiting for decades for someone to tie together the Neo-platonic strands in psychological thought, in contradiction to Freud and the radical empiricist strands, and Winnicott is the first to really achieve some headway in this area. You see, most people in psychology either think that our brains are like wax and we go around pressing them against things and putting indentations in the wax, whereas some others think that our brains are more like cookie cutters that chop out figures from raw experience. The former group are the empiricists (Freud), and the latter, the rationalists. (Piaget). This is especially important as we move into an era where psychotherapy is increasingly cognitive and rationalistic. Psychiatry and psychology training, in the wake of psychoanalysis's rationalistic errors of ignoring data and imposing a theory of sexuality on every case it came across, is unfortunately being repeated by people in the various schools of therapy. And it's really confusing for residents (like myself) to decide how much data to gather on a patient, and when to stop and apply a theory.

Winnicott teaches here that we in part, create reality and in part, discover it. Certain expectations we have come from our playful and interpersonal nature and we find ways to make the world conform to those expectations and desires. That does not mean those interpretations of the world are "illusion", meaning false, as Freud uses the term pejoratively. It simply means that a creative process is involved. But more importantly, after disagreeing with Freud so profoundly, Winnicott goes on to say that our expectations must also be let down repeatedly and conformed to reality as well. The infant does not only create the blanky-teddy, but discovers it in the real world, and gradually lets go of it, just as we all gradually let go of our parents, if we had healthy ones, that is... But the reality that we conform to is not the reality where all our expectations and illusions were dashed to pieces. They are merely modified to fit into a reality as Winnicott sees it, a reality of other minds and other persons.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult but worthwhile read 23 April 2010
By James J. Trotta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'll start off by saying I agree with D. Miles - this can be difficult reading at times. I'm not a psychoanalyst but I am a linguist so complicated language is something I am used to dealing with. I still find myself working hard when reading Playing & Reality. If you're willing to put in the effort, you'll find some fascinating ideas and interesting case studies that illustrate them. Franz Metcalf, in his review, has done an excellent job of explaining Winnicott's importance.
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Text of Adaptation Studies 5 July 2014
By Dr. Laurence Raw - Published on Amazon.com
First published in the late Sixties, PLAYING AND REALITY represents a significant advance in the Freudian approach to child-rearing. D. W. Winnicott is especially interested in the importance of play in the development of the child, as they learn how to cop with what can seem a hostile world. "Play" is not something unimportant, but a fundamental element in the process of adatation, a process that continues throughout an individual's life. The book is particularly strong in its analysis of the ways in which cultures shape individual lives: no two people are the same, and it is the responsibility of the parents - as well as psychoanalysts - to acknowledge this. Children should be treated on their own terms; their responses carefully analyzed; and advice judiciously given, with the proviso that the children are quite at liberty to reinterpret it in their own way, or ignore it if necessary. PLAYING AND REALITY argues convincngly that the ways in which people come to terms with their surroundings is through a fusion of "inner" and "outer" worlds - sometimes this is achieved through the deliberate investing of objects with particular significances peculiar to the individual. On the other hand, individuals can sometimes invest objects (as well as people) with too much significance, leading to the deliberate imposition of meanings upon phenomena. This manifests itself as an over-reliance on things (as well as peple) that can inhibit as well as promote development. This is where the parent - or the therapist - has to intervene, for it is only by exchanging ideas that the process of adaptation to unfamiliar phenomena can be continued. The book shows its age on certain occasions by relying too much on binary oppositions - inner/outer worlds, head/heart, society/ individuality - but it nonetheless retains its significance as a text making a genuine attempt to understand how the process of adaptation works. It is not just of interest to psychoanalysts, but to anyone interested in "adaptation studies" - understood in this sense as a means by which to understand how human beings come to terms with the world around them.
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