PLAY IS THE THING
Psychiatrist Stuart Brown has proposed this simple definition: "Play is spontaneous behavior that has no clear-cut goal and does not conform to a stereotypical pattern. The purpose of play is simply play itself; it appears to be pleasurable." In a study of 26 convicted murderers, Brown discovered that as children, most of them had suffered either "from the absence of play or abnormal play like bullying, sadism, extreme teasing, or cruelty to animals." Brown's work led him to explore the biological roots of play. "New and exciting studies of the brain, evolution, and animal behavior," he wrote, "suggest that play may be as important to life -- for us and other animals -- as sleeping and dreaming." - Stuart L. Brown, "Animals at Play," *National Geographic,* December 1994. Brown's website is http://www.instituteforplay.com.