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RECREATION-A FACTOR IN HELPING MALADJUSTED INDIVIDUALS

how often we find a child born whose best contribution to the world will not be in academic areas. Similarly, in law-abiding families we find destructive and delinquent children. We cannot say it is the fault of the parents, and certainly it is no fault of the child, but the rhythm of living of each individual is so uniquely personal that an unwillingness on his part to give up his own interests and to accept fully the patterns of his environment again causes first, conflict, and then maladjustment.

Another source of maladjustment lies in the adjustments pertaining to growth from childhood through adulthood on to old age. Whatever new situations the human dynamo has to meet may be a new source or cause of emotional disturbance; disharmony or uncertainty, whether in school, love, marriage or job finding, may cause real feelings of uncertainty and unhappiness.

The sixth source of emotional maladjustment may be discovered in the form of the community that we live in, whether it be urban or rural. The organization of the community, the activities going on there, and the opportunities it offers make either for greater or lesser balancing of emotional life as they provide leaders and outlets to meet the needs of those who are a part of it.

Diagnostic Indications of Maladjustment Since we have defined what we mean by emotional maladjustment and given some attention to the sources from which it may arise, we are now ready to recognize that the particular tendencies of the individual, as well as his interests, goals and his general environment, are of great importance in the establishment of emotional balance. To the degree that we understand that individuals cannot be placed in categories merely descriptive of their obvious characteristics and also that latent interests, unused abilities, functional disturbances, temperamental reactions are of the greatest diagnostic value, only to that degree can we hope to successfully guide and adapt the situation to meet the needs.

Some Accepted Methods of Handling Emotional Maladjustment

Let us look at a few accepted methods in the handling of emotional maladjustment. We think immediately of the use of the home, school, psychiatrist, psychologist and social

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agency. Depending on one's economic status as well as one's knowledge of community resources we have always thought in terms of handling emotional maladjustment through clinics, sanatoria, visiting teachers, visiting nurses, special schools and a whole battery of agencies well known to you.

I wish to make my feeling in this matter very clear. I am fully aware of the value which your present varied approaches have in diagnosing, guiding and treating maladjusted individuals. But I am also aware of the great limitations put upon you by pressure of time and general economic conditions. We must consider the relative resistance to change that most homes offer; the conditions of overcrowding and time limitations in schools, and the tendency to use a diagnostic label as an end in itself rather than as a point of departure for treatment.

Now let us look at a new-and yet very oldtool in the handling of emotional maladjustment. Let us remember that recreation is not a superimposed technique of living but a very old law of life itself. We find it expressed in various ways throughout the history of man. In the rest and vegetation periods of plant life we see nature using recreation as a tool. In animal life we have only to spend a day with a herd of cattle to see animal life recreating itself. Man, too, has an old and long history in his use of recreation. At different times and through different periods it has been used differently. In recent times recreation has become identified with relaxation and leisure. Unfortunately, however, leisure still tends to be the right of only a privileged group and so it becomes our great concern to not only enlarge the group privileged to enjoy recreation but to multiply the forms and experiences of recreation. Must we not also see that even if we were able to give leisure to 50% more of the population, a knowledge of how to use this leisure would be wanting? We are therefore today talking of a

"Recreation is a process in directing
human energies into creative and
satisfying channels. As such it deals
with the discovery of outlets for sur-
plus energies, not only for the pur-
pose of keeping some one out of mis-
chief, but also with the intention of
finding personal satisfaction for the
individual, a legitimate satisfaction
which will lead him into many forms
of adjustment and a happy life."

most important need of modern life and focusing our attention on how we may develop recreation not only as a resource that is complementary to other tools now used but as a dynamic, integral part of life.

A New Concept of Recreation

A cardinal principle which seems to me of tremendous

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RECREATION-A FACTOR IN HELPING MALADJUSTED INDIVIDUALS

importance is that recreation can never be found separated from occupation, vocation or what is generally termed one's daily life work. We all know that work is a blessing and a natural need of the human normally functioning body-just as natural as food, water, sunshine or sleep. The plan of nature calls for a

healthy body plus work and recreation.

Theoretically, work was always

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meant to be creative or productive of something within the capacity of the individual. But instead we find that it tends to become only a means of making a living, a drudgery. Recreation therefore becomes a necessity as a matter of mental health and social adjustment. It is true to an amazing extent that people who are using creativeness in their daily work do not really need recreation, in its ordinary meaning, except for occasional replenishment of their energies through food, air, sleep and social exchange. Whereas for people whose energies are used mechanically and uncreatively, recreation becomes a matter of absolute necessity, of life and death. We find among the industrial workers, the white collar class, laborers, houseworkers, nurses, even teachers and social workers, a constant need to create something which they always wished to do something outside of their work. For them it is not sufficient to supply activity programs, neither is it enough to offer lectures and courses called adult education, although no one denies their value. I feel very keenly that recreation must be something more, something more personal and essential to them. Here one thinks of gardening, raising of poultry, care and breeding of animals, wood carving, modelling, pottery, weaving. For some, learning to play an instrument, choral singing, drama, dance, photography, painting, interior decoration!

These boys have discovered that stamp collecting offers a fascinating hobby

are among these personal experiences which may be used so effectively as recreation. Over and over again it has been shown to be true that work shops rather than lecture rooms result in deeply satisfying recreational experiences.

Adult and Child Recreation

When one thinks of recreation specifically and not generally, one differentiates between recreation for the adult and recreation for child. Here again it is to be understood that every period of life, the pre-school period, adolescence, middle age, have their own needs which must be understood from the recreational point of view.

Let us consider for a moment the recreational needs of the adolescent, whose energies must be utilized. The adolescent has been analyzed as an individual detached from the social group as a whole, but the solution of his adolescent problems must be found in terms of group activity. Youth tells us this itself by organizing into groups of gangs, scouts or secret societies, when left alone to its own resources. Proper leadership ought to foster these expressions through mass meetings, either in school buildings or in large public halls. Here registration should be made, asking the

RECREATION-A FACTOR IN HELPING MALADJUSTED INDIVIDUALS

youth their interests and desires, how they would like to spend leisure time, what their past experiences in recreation have been. Then large tracts of land should be offered for cultivation, woodland for clearing and for chopping down dead trees, and opportunity given to construct buildings on this tract. What joy and readiness for these projects I have seen! Boys want to feel their muscles grow and want to go home with the feeling of achievement.

For those who show interest in collecting stamps, coins, stones, insects, or plants, recreation leaders should not only be available to guide these interests but alert to anticipate such needs even if unexpressed. Subjects such as woodcarving, pottery, metal and leather work, weaving, painting and drawing, call for studios with competent teachers and usable materials. Choral singing, the playing of musical instruments, group or solo dancing, drama, all meet the daily needs of the adolescent. Exhibitions, recitals, pageants should be given frequently so as to give youth its opportunity to show off in a wholesome and legitimate way. I have developed my own phrase for this"legalizing illegal impulses." We all recognize that expenditures connected with such a programme would cost the community far less than the time wasted, money spent and human energies used thus far to repair maladjusted youth.

Adolescent needs for recreation can be handled in groups as well as on an individual basis. I am thinking here of an experiment that took place under my supervision and guidance in a large public school situated in Lee, Massachusetts.

It was only a year ago that in a school of coo children, from 200 to 300 children were found to be anxious to get together every Saturday morning to experience creative adventures of the kind I have been describing. Officially, the called experiment was the "hobby classes." Through a period of a school year every Saturday morning the children gathered in an old gymnasium, distributing themselves as they wished at separate tables, covering about twenty dif

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ferent arts and crafts. In the middle of the floor gathered those who were not interested in manual expressions, but were interested in physical activity as it developed through folk dancing and ballet dancing. Those who were interested either in choral or solo singing assembled around the piano. Others were working on puppets, marionettes, wood and soap carving, painting, drawing, bookbinding, modelling, embroidering and crocheting. Out of this group a professional company of puppeteers was established which is still active and successful. Many children still continue these crafts and artistic interests in their homes. During that winter of 1935-36 a few public demonstrations were given before audiences of a few hundred people. Parents, teachers and community leaders all took part in the fascinating recreational project.

Recreation for Maladjusted Individuals

I have kept you waiting a long time to share with you my own experiences in the use of recreation as a special technique in solving emotional maladjustment. You will recognize that I have done this purposely so that all of us will focus our energies and talents on the use of recreation as an unrecognized tremendous force in the prevention of maladjustment. You will remember that I used as an illustration a moment ago both individual as well as group work with adolescents in this preventive sense. If we now think in terms of recreation as a remedy for already developed maladjustment, I would like to have you consider this principle that recreation as a technique in handling already developed maladjustment is the

At the recent International Labor Office Con-
ference, Harold Butler, its director, pled for a
shorter working week because of the need for
greater leisure and more sport. He urged that
the nervous strain caused by machines on the
human organism made this necessary. The nerv-
ous organism has been built up over tens of
thousands of years to meet conditions in which
no human being could move faster than a horse.
Now all this is changed. "England became the
first sporting country," Dr. Butler suggested,
"not because the English had a peculiar gift
for ball games, but because they were the first
to be called on to resist the impact of urban
industrialism. Sport is a substitute for physical
exercise which manual labor used to provide,
or which the eighteenth century merchant or
lawyer obtained by riding about his business on
horseback."-New York Times, June 15, 1937.

process of redirecting into creative and satisfying channels energies functioning in a disintegrating manner. I have a number of illustrations for you to consider in terms of not only the described situation but also in terms of the underlying concept.

I recall an individual who had to handle or touch everything that came within his sight. When there were not enough things around. him he began to annoy

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RECREATION-A FACTOR IN HELPING MALADJUSTED INDIVIDU ALS

A MESSAGE TO RECREATION WORKERS
"All of you here today are engaged in the
recreation field or in some allied area. Does
it sometimes occur to you that if we are to
believe in the value of creative personal ex-
perience for others we must enjoy these ex-
periences ourselves? How many of you here
today have experienced the personal glow of
recreating yourself through a minuet, an hour
at clay modelling, or an afternoon with paint
and brush and easel? I exhort you not only
on behalf of those you help professionally, but
on behalf of your own health, growth and hap-
piness, to embark immediately on the glorious
adventure of creative personal experiences
through recreation."-Dr. Altaraz.

and tease people. It occurred to me that plasteline and clay are interesting materials which human hands may handle, form, transform, mishandle, in a constructive way. It was pliable, plastic material. It gave in. And sure enough, as soon as this material was put into the hands of that individual, he discovered that there was such a thing as satisfying the desire to press, form and handle something without harm and injury, and with great personal satisfaction. This discovery of legitimate satisfaction of his own illegal impulses led this individual into many more forms of adjustment and re-education.

I remember another individual who loved to inflict pain either through his talk or by physical aggressiveness. Here wood-carving and hammering into metal with proper tools, carving satisfied his repressed emotions to such an extent that he ceased to continue his anti-social behavior.

The need to make faces, stick out one's tongue, and the displaying of deformities of the extremities suggest the fostering of fantastic or descriptive dancing. Dramatic interests and a desire to act may be another outlet for such evidences of maladjustment. We must recognize that by releasing through drama, pantomime, mimicry and comedy the surplus energy which is expressed in anti-social forms, we legalize the need and provide a stimulating, growing and satisfying reaction in the individual.

One thinks in this connection of the frequently encountered lonely individual maladjusted as to his social amiability. His characteristics may be described as sulkiness, or day-dreaming, or bookishness. Experience shows us that a successful start may be made to re-orient him if he can be made to transfer the energies he consumes within himself to something in the real world outside of himself. The dreamy girl who sits for hours looking at faraway hills is offered a little patch of land not too close to the main house where she tries to raise a few flowers. Watering them, nursing them, the flowers finally grow, and soon she approaches us with a gift-a handful of posies. Others, too, soon receive gifts from her garden, and finally we see her sufficiently cured of her

former interest in herself

only to the extent that she is the leader of a small class in gardening.

One more example - it is difficult to resist going through the long list of those whom I have seen grow strong and well on the wings of recreation— I remember clearly a young woman who came to me in a most unhappy frame of mind and in a miserably run-down physical condition. A competent housewife, an energetic mother, a devoted wife, she was finding herself, at the time of our first contact, full of resentment as to her duties at home; irked with the business demands on her husband and irritated by her youngster's vivacious personality. She was tired of planning meals, washing dishes, darning socks, and asking her husband "how everything was." She had lost her interest in keeping her hair orderly; she didn't care whether she said "good morning" or not to her next door neighbor. She knew well enough that the possibilities for happiness were numerous, but was too indifferent, it seemed, to care to do anything about it.

We recognized from the start that some medical care was needed. We also helped her husband to appreciate the part that physical tiredness played in her mental and emotional maladjustment. We released her for three hours each afternoon from every care and worry. But in addition to providing her with leisure we learned that she had wished from the time she was 15 years old that she could give a good deal of time to the study and pursuit of music. A piano was found and some old music books were dug out of the trunk. First an hour a day, then two and three at the piano.

The end of one year presents to you a new picture. Housework is done efficiently and willingly; a system of meal planning and preparing has been developed which permits a two-hour free period every afternoon for piano or attendance at an occasional concert. Even the baby has been heard to pick out a few notes while his mother cooks or sews. Our friend has released from within herself a tremendous current of unused energy. She has "re-created" herself through recreation. (Continued on page 325)

The Park Conservation Program

F WE ARE to understand thoroughly the aims and objects of the park conservation program which is being

The aims of the park conservation pro-
gram are offered as an antidote to the
devastating speed of our modern life

carried out under the supervision of the National Park Service in cooperation with various federal relief agencies, states and local communities, we must know something of the social and economic factors which made such a program necessary. It was not born over night, nor of the brain of any one man or group of men. It is the outgrowth of fundamental human needs. It is an effort to meet those needs. It is tied up intimately with several movements that are to have tremendous significance in the future of American life. These movements, and the forces that brought them into existence, must have a word of explanation if we are to grasp the full import of the nation-wide park conservation program.

You have no doubt heard it said that this is the fastest age any generation has ever seen. It is almost as though the law of gravitation had sud

denly become the law of modern civilization, that our forward speed is accelerated at the rate of so many new inventions, new social and economic fads and panaceas, so many new records smashed and old precedents broken per day or week or year. "That's fine," we say. "That's progress. Man must go forward else he and the civilization he has created will stagnate, degenerate."

But the more thoughtful are beginning to see the dangers of too much speed. In the mad race to get ahead we are liable to lose our sense of values, and instead of progressing on to finer and better things, to the Utopia that has been man's dream since the beginning of time, we may be creating a Frankenstein which will end up by destroying us. Occasionally there is need to pause and take stock, as the wise merchant does; a pause now and then to consider values might save many a futile chase after false Utopias.

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