Monday, January 29, 2018

Play and Creativity

Playing and Reality. Ch. 4 Playing: Creative Activity and the Search for the Self

Here Winnicott reminds us of the analytic third, the potential space where play and creativity can emerge. Play is formless, aimless, unorganized nonsense, without sense, not about accomplishment, production, or denial of chaos. Play is about being or, rather, about becoming. Creativity is about becoming the self. Prescient about neuroscientific discoveries and the importance of the right brain over the left, Winnicott writes “...explanation is ineffectual. The person we are trying to help needs a new experience…” so he hangs back from intruding by interpretation.

Winnicott stands squarely in the relational field when he writes “a description of the emotional development of the individual cannot be made entirely in terms of the individual, but ... the behaviour of the environment is part of the individual’s own personal development…” But Winnicott, in his zeal to let his patient “discover” herself and make her own interpretations, seems to forget that meaning is made within a relational context, that we become and come to know who we are through interaction with others. In his example of a session as a case illustration, Winnicott seems to abandon a relational stance when he refrains from sharing himself and his thoughts with his patient for the purpose of allowing her to find herself without interference. 

My enormous appreciation of Winnicott flags only with this clinical example. Winnicott seems to believe the new experience for the patient is his not demanding anything of her, not demanding she comply to his expectations. And while I believe this to be true, it is not sufficient for his patient repeatedly complains, in the context of his silence, that she feels ‘of no consequence’ and has ‘a desperate feeling of not mattering.’ She complains further, ‘I haven’t yet really made contact with you at all today.’  and ‘...was I talking to myself?’ Winnicott behaves as if this is all a consequence of her traumatically unrecognizing childhood and does not seem to locate himself in a re-traumatizing experience. She only becomes enlivened in response to his eventually speaking. I posit that it is not what Winnicott says, but that he speaks, interacts, reflects (mirrors), making a shared meaning. Two things, then, seem to be necessary: both the freedom to become ourselves from within us (Winnicott) and the need to have our becoming selves reflected back by a participatory subjectivity recognizing our own (Hegel).

1 comment:

Jane said...

I really like this. What an important distinction and so wonderfully described. Thanks Lycia.