The “Red Room” corresponds to the red zone of the psychoformative gyre. This room provides a space for the scanning book, the community chest, the colored backboards, the gluing machine, the plexiglass, and, especially, for a large soft carpet and an open area where materials can be gathered and the collage can be assembled on the floor in a fashion that is best thought of as “child’s play for grownups.” (Roll-over image.)

“Lacan describes the infant’s fascination with his mirror image as an ‘identification, … a transformation which takes place in the subject when he assumes an image’. It is to be seen as the ‘spatialization’ necessary for a position in language by which the subject is able to communicate.”

— R. Coward and J. Ellis
Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory of the Subject, 1977


“The seductiveness of the mirror stage is its offer of totality and a vision of the self as a unified whole. What lies ‘beyond’ the mirror stage is a loss of totality, the fragmentation of the body and the self — what Lacan calls the symbolic order… The child is born into the symbolic order in that he has a name which stands for him in the order of language and because he already figures in an oedipal triangle that lies beyond the binary order of reflection. Though the child never leaves the mirror stage altogether — for he continues to identify with images of wholeness — he enters the symbolic order by accepting the fragmentation of the body (more specifically, in technical terms, castration) and by accepting the possibility which language brings of the discontinuity of the self.”

— Jonathan Culler
The Pursuit of Signs, 1981

“Freud takes for granted the early mothering situation [his own as well as that of his patients] and my contention is that it turned up in his provision of a setting for his work, almost without his being aware of what he was doing…

The essential feature of my communication is this, that playing is an experience, always a creative experience, and it is an experience in the space-time continuum, a basic form of living.

The precariousness of play belongs to the fact that is is always on the theroetical line between the subjective and that which is objectively perceived.

It is my purpose here simply to give a reminder that children’s playing has everything in it, although the psychotherapist works on the material, the content of playing. Naturally, in a set or professional hour a more precise constellation presents that would present in a timeless experience on the floor at home…; but it helps us to understand our work if we know that the basis of what we do is the patient’s playing, a creative experience taking up space and time, and intensely real for the patient.”

— D.W. Winnicott
“Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects of Regression Within the Psycho-Analytical Set-Up,” 1954;
Playing and Reality, 1971


“Children are apt to express in spatial configurations what they cannot or dare not say.”

—Erik H. Erikson
Childhood and Society, 1950


From a different perspective one could point out that, to its credit, the profession of psychotherapy has remained, nearly alone among forms of profession practice, a labor intensive discipline, and has done so in the face of massive technolization and capital intensification nearly everywhere else. Are there good reasons to challenge such an apparently warranted humanistic emphasis? The strongest reasons would be those deriving from concerns inescapably central to the psychotherapeutic tradition, namely epistemological theories involving interconnections among feeling, motivation, symbolization, and language acquisition.