Toward an Ethic of Play in Psychoanalysis
by Steven H. Cooper, PhD
Through three detailed clinical vignettes, the author explores the ethical undergirding of play. He defines play as a form of idiomatic responsiveness that emerges in the context of analytic intersubjectivity, one that can illuminate elements of fixed transference-countertransference enactment. The author outlines an ethic of play that considers whether the analyst’s forms of responsiveness deepen and enliven the patient’s understanding of unconscious fantasy, conflict, and internalized object relations. Play poses challenges and a potential risk for the analytic couple, since in play rules are often changing in the dialogue between the conscious and unconscious minds of the analytic couple.
The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 90:3, 373-397, August 2020.
About the Author
Steven H. Cooper, PhD, is a psychoanalyst and teacher well known internationally for his interest in integrating independent, Kleinian and relational thinking in his clinical work and writing. He is the author of The Analyst’s Experience of the Depressive Position: The Melancholic Errand of Psychoanalysis (2016), Disturbance in the Field: Essays in Transference-Countertransference Engagement (2010), and Objects of Hope: Exploring Possibility and Limit in Psychoanalysis (2000). He has a forthcoming book to be published by Routledge in 2021, Playing and Becoming in Psychoanalysis. A Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, he is also Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Co-Chief Editor Emeritus at Psychoanalytic Dialogues.
Diane O’Donoghue, PhD. (2021). Amnesias of a Freudian Kind. Part One. American Imago 78(1), 55-77.
Charles Levin, PhD and Dawn Skorczewski, PhD. (2020).The Poetics of Boundary Violation: Anne Sexton and Her Psychiatrist. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 30(2), 206-221.
Andrea Celenza, PhD (2020). Embodiment and the Perversion of Desire. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 89(3), 369-398.
Steven H. Cooper, PhD (2021). Donald Winnicott and Stephen Mitchell’s Developmental Tilt Hypothesis Reconsidered. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 31(3), 355-370.
Elsa Ronningstam, PhD (2021). Cultural Function and Psychological Transformation of Silence in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. In Dimitrijevic, A. and Buchholz, M.B., eds. (2021). Silence and Silencing in Psychoanalysis: Cultural, Clinical, and Research Perspectives. Routledge, pp. 105-127.
Paola M. Contreras, PsyD (2021). The Magical and the My-Person in Psychoanalysis During the Covid Pandemic. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 68(6): 1113-1126. Open Access, DOI: 10.1177/0003065120981733
Don R. Lipsitt, MD (2020). In Freud’s Pocket: A Totem of Medical Ambivalence? American Imago, 77(4): 738-751.
Rachel Brier, EdD and Anna Ornstein, MD (2020). Tracking Changes in the Disruption/Repair Sequences: Important Aspects of Clinical Work. Psychoanalysis, Self and Context.
Rodrigo Barahona, PsyaD (2020). Living the Non-Dream: An Examination of the Links Between Dreaming, Enactment, and Transformations in hallucinosis. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 89:4, 689-714.
Sarah Ackerman, PhD (2020). A Diagnosis for Psychoanalysis in the 21st Century: Freud as Medicine. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 89:4, 667-688.
Lora Tessman, PhD (2020). Review of Ghost in the Human Psyche: The Story of a ‘Muslim Armenian’ , by Vamik D. Volkan. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 56(2-3):457-464.