Cover image for Beyond love and work : why adults need to play
Beyond love and work : why adults need to play
Terr, Lenore, 1936-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Scribner, [1999]

Physical Description:
286 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF717 .T47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this startlingly original psychological inquiry, a renowned child psychiatrist shows why play, so essential to the developing child, fills an equally important function in our adult lives.

When Sigmund Freud so famously said that a happy, balanced life depends entirely upon "the compulsion to work and the power of love," the great man simply overlooked the importance of play. When we play, we forget ourselves. We immerse ourselves in the act of play. And we become free.

No one, of course, has ever disputed that a healthy childhood inspires and requires play. Dr. Lenore Terr has spent her distinguished career closely observing children at play. Through that work she has come to see just how much a child's play is an opening to that child's being.

For those adults who "don't" yet play, "Beyond Love and Work" can be considered a how-to book. For those adults who "do" play, they can gain insight into what they're doing, because mature play, we learn, doesn't originate in a vacuum. It develops from childhood avoidances, losses, wishes, preferences, even rebellions. In these pages we also learn:

* How infantile play find

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Reminding readers of key aspects of life too often ignored is the common goal of these self-help tomes. Claxton is a professor of psychology and education. Drawing on cognitive science, which he calls a blend of neuroscience, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and experimental psychology, he distinguishes the mind's three processing speeds: faster-than-thought instinctive reactions, or our "wits"; the logical, deliberative "d-mode" of our intellects; and the undermind, which is, he argues, the slowest, most contemplative, and most undervalued aspect of human intelligence. Claxton examines the role of this "tortoise mind" in creativity and its value in coping with ambiguity and paradox, then describes some of the changes needed in classrooms and workplaces to "put the tortoise to work" in people's lives. Child psychiatrist Terr suggests that Freud's reduction of the critical elements of life to love and work was too narrow: play, she argues, is as important for adults as for children. Terr considers the whys and wherefores of play, examines the appeal of different types of play, discusses the changing role of play through the life cycle (and through history), and includes plenty of case studies, particularly of people whose work includes a strong element of play and of those whose preferred form of play has shifted over the years. Like Claxton, Terr urges her readers to slow down and be a bit less intensely goal oriented to improve their quality of life (as well as quality of mind). --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Freud's famous contention that the two crucial needs for adults are love and work leaves out a third fundamental need, according to Terr, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UC-San Francisco. She believes that play is an equally pressing human need, and that our culture squeezes play almost completely from our lives as we age. Since Erik Erikson's modification of Freud's developmental stages, Terr argues, psychologists and psychiatrists have accepted the importance of play in childhood while neglecting its value for adults. Having emphasized play as both an end and a process in her research and practice, Terr (Too Scared to Cry; Unchained Memories) writes: "The lack of play dulls a person‘and it may well be that an overall lack of play dulls a society." Terr reviews research on play in children and teens extensively, despite the titular cue toward adulthood. Not until the final three (of eight) chapters does she directly address how adults can profit from play in their lives, and, more speculatively, how societies can become more dynamic through play. She weaves therapy cases and research results together skillfully and writes clearly and personally. At times the writing is so personal it intrudes on her message, as when she addresses the audience as "dear reader" or digresses into the types of flowers she plants or what she orders at restaurants. The overall message, however, is both important and clearly argued. And perhaps even the digressions are consistent with her central plea: lighten up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Procedures and Acknowledgments
1 Why Play? And How Do We Know We're Playing?
2 Revisiting the Lowest Rungs of the Play Ladder
3 Biological Reasons We Pick Certain Playgrounds and Ways of Playing
4 Play Built on Fantasies About Aggression or Sex
5 Rules of the Game, Tools in the Game, Fools for the Game
6 Adolescent Turning Points in Play
7 How Play Moves Through History and Around the World
8 Underplay, Overplay, and Cure Through Play
9 Play as Work, Play as Life