Intimacy pp 325-346 | Cite as

Intimacy in Play and Play Therapy

  • Milton S. Gurvitz


The intense intimacy between parent and infant is legendary and can be evoked by the common experience of the caring parent, more often the mother, being awakened from the deepest of sleep by a child’s cry. This degree of intimacy has been very well described by two recent researchers using a split screen videotape. In a laboratory situation, Brazelton (1973) has found that even two- or three-week-old infants can clearly distinguish between people and objects (not in the psychoanalytic sense of objects). Interaction with objects is brief although intense and is then turned off by the lack of response. In contrast, the baby’s reaction to the parent is a prolonged involvement in a social situation in which he masters objective and affective information. In the process of interacting with the parent there is an ebb and flow of attention recognizable in the response of the infant’s body in the direction of the caregiver (outward?) and then back to the original position (withdrawal?). There appears to be an unmistakable peak of attention and then subsidence. This rhythm of attending to the parents and then withdrawal of attention towards the self occurs several times a minute. One can venture to suggest that this is the neonate’s homeostatic model of being able to turn off attention and perception, utilizing motility lest it be overwhelmed by excitation.


Visual Motor Symbolic Play Human Play Play Therapy Good Play 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milton S. Gurvitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Great Neck EstatesUSA

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