It has long been thought that play serves a significant developmental purpose. Early 19th-century theorists considered play as allowing individuals the release of surplus, unexpended energy. Others viewed the phenomenon as providing the opportunity to practice instinctual behaviors not yet required in serious form by the young. Still yet others, following the 19th-century notion that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” believed play to be the exercise of those motor activities that the human species developed over the history of the race. In the 20th century, psychoanalysts suggested that play provided children with important avenues for the expression of wish fulfillment and the mastery of traumatic events. For example, play was thought to allow the child to transcend the rigid sanctions of reality and therefore served as a ...

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