The ‘transitional space’ of imaginary play

I’m still working off Graham Music’s book Nurturing Natures. Music writes:

“The psychoanalyst Winnicott argued that what he called the ‘transitional space’ of imaginary play is the basis for all cultural activity, and he stated that ‘Cultural experience begins with creative living first manifested as play’ (1971, p.100). A symbol is partly an arbitrary or conventional sign, one thing representing another, but it is potentially much more than that. Using symbols, for example in pretend play, means ‘bracketing’ here-and-now experience in order to participate in another reality. A symbol represents or evokes another world, and is separate from that which it symbolises. The use of symbolism, which seems to occur in all cultures, is a skill and an achievement. Some children’s developmental trajectories are such that symbolic and imaginary play is beyond them, as seen particularly in many children with autistic-spectrum disorders as well as some neglected or maltreated children (Cicchetti & Lynch, 1995). Yet play also ultimately is not play if it is not fun, so despite the differences across cultures, what seems to be universal is not only that children indulge in play, including pretend play, but that it is mainly undertaken with feelings of pleasure and wonder. Maybe playing touches us so deeply because it is something that many in busy post-industrial society have so little time for; that ability to be in the moment and engrossed in an activity and in one’s own being.” (p.133)

Reference: (emphases in blue bold mine) Graham Music (2011) Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children’s Emotional Sociocultural and Brain Development. Hove: New York, Psychology Press

Reference is made to: Cicchetti, D & Lynch, M (1995) Failures in the expectable environment and their impact on individual development: The case of child maltreatment. IN DCicchetti & D Cohen (Eds) Developmental psychopathology. Risk, disorder and adaptation (pp.32-71). New York: Wiley.

Winnicott DW (1971) Playing and Reality. New York: Basic Books


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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