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Playing and Reality

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,938 ratings  ·  56 reviews
What are the origins of creativity and how can we develop it - whether within ourselves or in others? Not only does Playing and Reality address these questions, it also tackles many more that surround the fundamental issue of the individual self and its relationship with the outside world. In this landmark book of twentieth-century psychology, Winnicott shows the reader ho ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Routledge (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,938 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Geoffrey Rhodes
Sep 03, 2007 is currently reading it
Fantastic. You really only need to read the first third of this book to get it, but for me, the basic ideas he is putting forward here are really life changing. He is proposing a fundamental addition to the nature of our perception of reality (inside, outside, and playspace between), that I think is particularly fascintating for the artist, the compulsive, and the romantic.
Liz* Fashionably Late
"It is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self." ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: psychology
"The writing is clear and unfussy, blessedly free of psychobabble", said no one ever about this book.

Winnicott is a big name in psychoanalysis-oriented child psychology, together with Melanie Klein and John Bowlby. What they all have in common is the taking for granted that the relationship between the mother and the infant is what accounts for everything that goes wrong with the child, psychologically speaking. As far as I can tell, their works are marked by a near total disregard for genetics
Psychotherapist Dr Judith Edwards has chosen to discuss Playing and Reality by Donald Winnicott on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - Child Psychotherapy, saying that:

"...Winnicott was the people’s psychoanalyst, seeing mother and child as developing together within their relationship. Winnicott’s Playing and Reality, not published till after his death, is a fine and illuminating collection of his major thinking, important not only because of the work with children (just pick any
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is another fave of mine. I could never give a good description of what this book is about cause my understanding it is always changing (and lacking at times).
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful way of answering Freudian theories of creativity...engaging essays on their own and also great for the lit. classroom...
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There were parts of this that resonated with me. There were parts that felt a bit false, or strange. But that's alright. Psychology isn't, and shouldn't be, clockwork. It's nebulous; it's imaginative. Winnicott understood that.

Because the ideas were presented in all their malleability, they weren't ever threatening to me. I remain free to form my own ideas, so I can fully appreciate his.

Some favorite quotes:

"The thing about playing is always the precariousness of the interplay of personal psychi
Marty Babits
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychotherapy
This is one of the most important books on the subject of psychotherapy I've read. Winnicott is a poet. He writes in images and often with a lot of jargon that is thick and hard-going. However, when he makes a discovery, and he makes quite a few, it's like he's journeyed to the center of the Earth and come back to reveal what the foundation beneath the foundation of reality is all about. As a therapist who has been practicing over twenty-five years, he is probably my greatest inspiration. His pe ...more
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents. Definitely.
Recommended to Lily by: Prof at Hampshire
One of the best books of ALL TIME. This mean is an endearing genius about humans. Wish i could hug him!
Matthew Kozak
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Skimmed and picked around more than read ( more heavily in some parts than others, is the fairest to say).

But considered a milestone work in children's (...and really people in general) psychology by one of my favorite psychologists: Mr. D.W. Winnicott.

He - along with Carl Rogers, Aaron Beck, and Carl Jung - have had as much of an influence on my own psychological predilections, philosophy, and musings as anyone.

While this book is about many aspects of development (primarily on the import
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Chapters read:

Chapter 1: Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena

Chapter 3: Playing: A theoretical statement
Sep 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-psychiatry
GoodReads reviewers, I am disappointed in you. Are none of you going to question this book?

"There is nothing new either inside or outside psychoanalysis in the idea that men and women have a 'predisposition towards bisexuality'." (p.72)

-Who even believes this?

"Incalculable is the envy of the white bottle-fed population of the black people who are mostly, I believe, breast-fed" (p.142)

-racial hatred in the USA is more based on mothering than skin colour? How does he know more black mothers bre
Ruby Ann
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: play-therapy
A major theme in this book is how we experience the field that exists between outer (objective) reality and our inner (subjective) understanding. Winnicott terms this the "intermediate area of experiencing". Transitional phenomenon, an infant's choosing of an object or action that soothes, is the way an infant explores this area, and becomes increasingly comfortable losing his/her sense of omnipotence. During this stage, Winnicott also stresses the importance of "a good enough mother", that is a ...more
Oct 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book explains what mom's do wrong to cause their kids to end up disordered--I mean--gay and transgendered. It was written in the 70's. So... it was hard for me to take any of it very seriously and I am very confused why the average rating on this book is above 4 stars. And let's say that I entertained the idea that maybe being gay is a disorder caused by bad mothering--even then, this book... is simply not well-written. And for the few interesting theories it proposes, it's 90% subjectivist ...more
Lee Kofman
Aug 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn’t get much out of this read, mostly because the book is more focused on therapy than I initially assumed it'd be when I decided to read it. Because it’s been referenced by several creative thinkers, I wanted to read the book, thinking it’d have a thorough philosophical discussion of Winnicott’s fascinating ideas around this liminal space that he argues humans need to occasionally inhabit to maintain their mental health – a space that is somewhere between being utterly self-centred and the ...more
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book, especially "The Use of an Object" and "The Location of Cultural Experience." So good. ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating juxtapostion of our consciousness and how we develop
Jun 08, 2016 added it
"...cultural experiences are in direct continuity with play, the play of those who have not yet heard of games." ...more
Jan 25, 2018 added it
While you can probably get parenting advice out of this, it doesn't appear to be have written with this purpose making it rather difficult to do so ...more
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Donald Woods Winnicott was one of the most influential personalities in the British psychoanalytical field, developing several theories that are still referred to even today. He died in 1971 after a 50-year long career as a paediatrician and psychoanalyst and after having treated more than 20.000 children.

Playing and Reality was his last book; it is a collection of essays, very readable, not too academic, that offer an overview of his theories regarding human development and behavior. The focus
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
An important work from the psychoanalytical school of object relations, beginning with the oft-cited essay on the transitional object.

Winnicott’s “true self” plays a central role in this work, yet remains relatively undefined. Winnicott seems to advocate socially recognized creativity as constituting the true self, similar to what Freud recommends in sublimative practice, but the interpersonal relation that Winnicott stresses here as fundamental seems to belie the insistence on the possibility o
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychoanalysis
"The searching can come only from desultory formless functioning, or perhaps from rudimentary playing, as if in a neutral zone. . . . This if reflected back, but only if reflected back, becomes part of the organized individual personality, and eventually this in summation makes the individual to be, to be found."

A series of excursions building on the idea of the transitional area, between being and doing, female and male, subject and object, projection and perception, unity and separation. The p
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read most of this in a workshop on attachment. It was very helpful having a group with whom to process this text as Winnicott's writing is quite obtuse. He seems to be sharing about 30% of what he's thinking about and the reader has to infer the rest. Some interesting ideas about how attachment works. ...more
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent book for getting an idea of such concepts as transitional objects, transitional phenomena (and how they lead to the development of a cultural sense), and the importance of the environment in the therapeutic setting.
Crispin Semmens
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Psychoanalytic take on subject/object metaphysics - wedging open the razor divide between subject and object, me and not-me, into a wide, paradoxical, territory of infinite games spanning birth to death and all in between.
Sezen Camkiran
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Winnicott has such a natural oversight of the human psyche and states of being. A remarkable vision he has indeed. In addition, he’s very graceful in discussing his ideas. Reading his words was a joyful learning for my doors of perception.
Rosana Sigler
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Winnicott developed many ideas about the transitional experiences.
Ana Dionísio
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Winnicott is a great phicanalist and this book is a masterpiece. He brings the importance of playing during the childhood and how it reflects upon the whole life.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some very interesting and useful concepts and theories. A bit repetitive but the reiterations helped with absorbing the knowledge presented which i thought was relatively technical.
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Donald Woods Winnicott was an English pediatrician, psychiatrist, sociologist and psychoanalyst.

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96 likes · 33 comments
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” 47 likes
“The child is alone only in the presence of someone.” 13 likes
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