Hiding and Seeking: A Heuristic Self-Inquiry into Concealment Discovery and Peek-a-Boo

O'Rourke, Kate
Green, Emma
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

Early childhood games of concealment, such as peek-a-boo and hide and seek, have featured in psychoanalytic literature since the 1920’s. Sigmund Freud identifyed the symbolic nature of these games by postulating that they allow the child to experience the absence or presence of the loved object, predominantly the mother or primary caregiver.

Although strongly rooted in Western culture, concealment games such as peek-a-boo are recognised within diverse cultures around the world. In psychoanalytic literature there is an emphasis on the role of mutual gaze, mirroring, containment and how games like peek-a-boo strengthen the infant’s social relationships and ego development within the first year and a half of life, as well as the resulting pathology in its absence.

The aim of this research is to explore how the game of peek-a-boo presents beyond the developmental expectancy of early childhood, physically and emotionally, by examining the subjective experience of connection and disconnection, past and present through the eyes of a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist. The question asked is this: What is the psychotherapists’ experience of peek-a-boo? Exploring physical and emotional concealment and how this may limit or benefit self-expression, identity and creativity, both personally and within a psychotherapeutic context is at the heart of this research. An interpretivist approach drawing on the heuristic methodology of self-inquiry has been employed to delve into the theme of visual retreat experienced throughout the authors life.

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