The Playground of Psychoanalytic Therapy  book cover
1st Edition

The Playground of Psychoanalytic Therapy

ISBN 9780881633313
Published February 1, 2000 by Routledge
310 Pages

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Book Description

Building on the foundations of the "independent tradition" of British object relations theory and modern infancy research, Sanville proffers a new understanding of the role of play in the clinical situation. She attends especially to the therapeutic situation as a safe playground, the therapist's playful engagement of the patient, and the patient's emergent ability to embrace playfully the liberating possibilities of psychoanalytic therapy.

Table of Contents

Meaning Making and Playing in Infancy. A Child Who Cannot Play. A Child Who Cannot Play: A Contemporary Little Hans. The Scene: Space and Time of the Therapeutic Playground. Playgrounds for Transference and Countertransference. The Work: Building a Playground with an Unplayful Adult. Re-railing the Dialogue. Primary Trauma: Work, Love, and Play Toward Repair. Dreams as Private Playthings. The Psychomythology of Everyday Life. Playing and Interpretation. Endings and New Beginnings. The Play of Psychotherapy.

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Jean B. Sanville


"Dr. Sanville's style complements the substance of her book, which is both poetic and profound.  She has given us a creative synthesis of contemporary object relations theory and infant observational research, infused with clinical wisdom.  Her subjects are the ordinary stuff of our work - transference, countertransference, dreams, symptoms, trauma - but they are transfigured through the prism of her playful ideas.  Only the most hidebound psychotherapist or psychoanalyst will fail to find something of values in The Playground of Psychoanalytic Therapy."

- Arnold D. Richards, M.D., New York Psychoanalytic Institute

"Sanville presents a thesis that is both original and convincing regarding the significance of play and playfulness in the clinical situation.  She makes her case by drawing on the best of Winnicott, Balint, and Freud, which she successfully integrates with the newly observed infant of Stern, Emde, and Sander.  The result is a balanced, literate illumination of such central topics in our field as the use of the dream, the interpretive act, and the intimate ambience, all generously illustrated with a broad range of case material.  The Playground of Psychoanalytic Therapy is a book especially suited for our time."

- Morton Shane, M.D., Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

"Sanville makes a convincing case for the therapist becoming imaginatively engaged in associative play with the patients.  This contributes to a process of growth toward feeling real, which has so often been interrupted by traumatic experience in childhood.  Along with this therapeutic gain, spontaneity and creatvity make also be recovered and enriched.  Sanville illustrates her thesis with some inspiringly sensitive examples that clearly show the value of allowing space in psychotherapy for the patient's playful exploration of the spontaneous outflowings of the unconscious mind."

- Patrick Casement, M.A., author of Learning from the Patient (1990)

"This is a definitive study of self-restorative play and its function in the psychotherapy of children and adults.  The Playground of Psychoanalytic Therapy will be of special interest for everyone who is involved with the psychoanalytic treatment of children and concerned with the creative aspects of the self."

- Arnold H. Modell, M.D., Harvard Medical School

"Jean Sanville's wide-ranging exploration of play is unique in that it draws on the latest findings of infant researchers as well as on clinical cases of both children and adults.  The richness of her clinical material and scholarship cannot be adequately described in a short statement.  Reading the book invites the reader into Jean Sanville's playful and pleasurable way of working and thinking."

- Anni Bergman, Ph.D., The City University of New York