Play Is More Than Just Fun with Stuart Brown, M.D.

Stuart Brown

Play is something that’s deeply embedded in our natures. It contributes to mood, to optimism, and to hope for the future. It enables us with the ability to persevere. A world without it would be bleak indeed. Stuart Brown points out, “Play is a fundamental survival drive of humanity without which long term survival of our species may be at stakeThere was no such thing as play deprivation among these highly successful people, so as one begins to get an array of data from Nobel Laureates on one end, homicidal people on the other and the rest of us in between, you begin to get a sense of the contributions that play makes to a life and you also begin to get a sense of what’s missing when it’s missing in a life.” He describes the work of anthropologist Peter Gray, who researched 150 hunter/gatherer tribes. Gray came to the conclusion that our human heritage is deeply imbedded in playfulness, which leads to not only empathy, but cooperation, sharing, and altruism, which has been, for a million years, how we as tribal creatures have been able to survive. Because play has been known to have serious consequences for the human spirit, Brown is concerned about the state of play in the world today. It’s all summed up in the research done by Bob Fagan with Grizzly bears in Alaska. When he and Brown were observing bears wrestling and “playing”, Brown asked, “Why do bears play?” Bob responded, “[It] prepares them for a changing world.” Brown goes on to say, “That’s what kids do when they’re playing. They are exploring something absolutely that’s new to them, that opens possibilities through their own imagination.”

Program 3496 Description

See the full description for this guest’s background, their books, topics covered in this dialogue, and more.

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