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Psychiatr Enfant. 1990;33(2):457-78.

[Children's games; observations and experiences].

[Article in French]

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Département de Psychologie, Université hébraïque, Jérusalem.


In contrast with free play, children's rule-governed game playing has raised little interest among psychodynamic investigators. It is generally assumed that games such as hopscotch, marbles, tag and ball games--because of their fixed rules--leave little room for personal fantasy or creative enterprise, which often characterise free play. A partial self-analysis of replaying-in-mind of a childhood game is presented, in order to demonstrate the essential functions of rules in the unconscious fantasies enacted in such games, and regressive, as well as maturational functions thus served. The analysis presented also reveals that games that are dictated by strict rules, nevertheless offer a wide scope for creative enterprise since any game, just like, e.g., a piece of music, may be performed with great virtuosity without breaking any rules. It is argued that the use of reconstruction-in-mind of childhood game experiences--when one can open up to the child within and relive these experiences--is a method of investigation that may be fruitfully added to the traditional ones. The insights reached by means of this method were not as accesible through analysis of data obtained in earlier research, conducted by other means, namely, observations and recordings of children at play, as well as interviews with children.

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