In an era of increasingly patient-centered healthcare, understanding how health and illness play out in social context is vital. This volume opens a unique window on the role of play in health and wellbeing in widely varied contexts, from the work of Patch Adams as a hospital clown, to an Australian facility for dementia treatment, to a New Zealand preschool after an earthquake, to a housing complex where Irish children play near home. Across these and other featured studies, play is shown to be shaman-like in its transformative dynamics, marshaling symbolic resources to re-align how patients construe and experience illness. Even when illness is not an issue, play promotes wellbeing by its power to reimagine, invigorate, enliven and renew through sensory engagement, physical activity, and symbolism. Play levels social barriers and increases flexible response, facilitating both shared social support and creative reassessment.
This book challenges assumptions that play is inefficient and unproductive, with highly relevant evidence that playful processes actually work hard to dislodge unproductive approaches and thereby aid resilience. Solid research evidence in this book charts the course and opens the agenda for taking play seriously, for the sake of health.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the International Journal of Play.