Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute of Play, spent fifty years exploring the benefits of play. He researched types of play and how play affects humans and animals. He also studied play deprivation and its connections with violence, looking for causes and prevention. Brown shared his findings through published materials, television programming, conferences, speaking engagements, radio appearances, and resources at the National Institute of Play.
Brown started his career at Wheaton College where he earned his B.S. degree. He went on to train in general and internal medicine, psychiatry, and clinical research. He received an internal medicine fellowship the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After his fellowship he went to Waco, Texas, where he became the Assistant Dean of Baylor University and a resident in psychiatry. He went on to become the founding Clinical Director and Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center and associate Professor at UCSD in San Diego.
While at Baylor University in 1966, Governor John Connally asked Dr. Brown to join the Fact Finding Task Force as a consulting psychiatrist for the Charles J. Whitman Texas Tower Case. (At that time, the case was considered the largest mass murder in U.S. history.) The case prompted Brown to further investigate violence, starting with a study of a group of young male murderers and drunk drivers. He continued his research on the role that play deprivation plays in violent persons.
Over the course of his career, Brown interviewed more than 8,000 people about their play behavior and explored links between play and success as an adult. After leaving his clinical career in 1989, he pursued play research further by looking for links between animal and human play behavior. He acquired information from animal experts who shared their discoveries about animal play. Brown also corresponded with Brian Sutton-Smith and other play scholars to continue the exploration of play and its importance to human development.
As of 2017, Brown continues to be involved with the National Institute for Play.