chapter  Chapter 9
11 Pages

The area of playing in the cure

ByLaura Dethiville

The study we have developed here leads us logically to take interest in Winnicott’s conception of the position of the analyst in the work of the cure. In the article “Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena”, he concludes a long and very remarkable clinical vignette by this phrase: “In this session we had roamed over the whole field between subjectivity and objectivity, and we ended up with a bit of a game” (Winnicott, 2005b: 25). This phrase is somewhat surprising. It reminds us of the special place in human activity that Winnicott devotes to play. According to him, it is by playing that the human being can establish a rapport with the world and with himself. This experience begins with play at the breast, which means that the mother places her breast in such a way that “it’s her nipple that the baby creates” (Winnicott, 1999: 103). Thus the baby can be active in the satisfaction of his needs and become the creator of the object that he has just discovered, and the need is transformed into desire. The successful repetition of these moments gives the baby the illusion of magical control over the creation of the object of desire and he can therefore bear its absence. This is how the infant creates and recreates the world at will, and “starts on the task at least as early as at the time of birth and of the theoretical first feed” (Winnicott, 1999: 110). It is the playful interaction between mother and baby. Playing is the direct successor of this period of illusion. As a result, the entire existence of mankind is built on the basis of playing. Playing is a creative experience, an experience that lies in the space-time continuum, a basic form of living. As we have already said, to play is to live.