Vygotsky and Winnicott: a Theoretical Underpinning for the Importance of Play in Child-Analysis

This paper is based on the experience of watching a piece of theatre in which children dub the dialogues of adults. In order to account for the observation that this dubbing as a form of repetition produces a gain without actually adding anything, we formulate the hypothesis that repetition in a child’s play can have the value of an interpretation. We combine this with the clinical observation of Winnicott that playing in itself is therapeutic, illustrated by some short clinical vignettes. A first support for our hypothesis lies in the analysis of the Fort-Da game described by Freud. Furthermore we describe two essential aspects of the child’s play: a supportive function for entering language and the creation of Desire while playing. These two aspects are clarified by making use of the theory of the Russian developmental psychologist Lev Semyonovitch Vygotsky.