Lack of play is a serious problem for us humans. Play geeks like me call it “play suppression.” In the worst cases, studies have shown that children who are kept from playing by their parents tend to have a hard time learning to relate to others and deal with their violent tendencies, leading to some of history’s saddest violent acts.
Even those of us who did play as children but gave it up in adulthood suffer the effects of play suppression. One study that has sparked my interest in relation to this topic is called the Rat Park study. That’s why I’ve been looking forward to this conversation with Stuart McMillen for so long.
Stuart McMillen is a cartoonist based in Canberra, Australia. Stuart draws long-form comics inspired by social issues involving science, ecology, sustainability, psychology and economics. His comics are currently translated into 9 languages, with the help of an enthusiastic international team of volunteers. In the podcast, Stuart refers to his work as science communication comics. He takes complex studies and subjects, spends vast amounts of time researching them then breaks them down for us laypeople in the form of a comic.
In this episode, we’ll talk about two studies that relate to addiction and isolation, Rat Park and Deviance in the Dark. They shine a light on the importance of community, intimacy and of course, play. After we discuss the basics of these studies, we launch into a conversation that, if you like this podcast at all, will be one you won’t want to miss. It’s at the very heart of why I’m so passionate about helping adults realize the vital importance of play.
- Visit Stuart McMillan’s website
- Read Bruce Alexander’s article, Addiction: The View from Rat Park
- Read Stuart’s Rat Park Comic
- Read Stuart’s Deviance in the Dark comic
- Check out Bruce Alexander’s book, The Globalization of Addiction
- Read Stuart’s reflections on his research and the “making of” the Rat Park Comic
- Watch the video of Stuart’s personal reflection on “connection” at Sunday Assembly