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Play and Reflection in Donald Winnicott's Writings

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The third book in the Winnicott Clinic Lecture Series contains a lecture from Professor Andre Green on Winnicott's theory on play. He discusses Winnicott's view on the importance of play and then moves on to presenting his own, somewhat contradictory, view on it. Professor Green provides an innovative and provocative perspective on the subject, inviting people to think independently rather than accepting theories already laid out for them.

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PLAY AND REFLECTION IN DONALD WINNICOTT’S WRITINGS

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André Green

In writing Donald Winnicott’s commemoration I find that I I strongly identify with him. Throughout his life Winnicott struggled against compliance, conformism, and submission. It is scarcely surprising there has not been any Winnicottian school and that no one is called his disciple, even those closest to him. As I feel a certain continuity exists between Winnicott and myself, I shall not provide a submissive account of his ideas, even though I do think he was the most creative mind in psychoanalysis, after Freud.

When Winnicott gave his first lecture to the British Psychoanalytical Society, on 28 November 1945, on the subject of “Primitive emotional development”, he said it was like the introduction to a book. He expounded his original method: ideas were not formed from other theories. He confessed that in building his own theory, he gathered elements from various sources and “related them to his clinical experience”, but was prepared to examine in due course the few things he “stole” here and there from others. However, my concern here is not what Winnicott is said to have “stolen” from others, but rather what his own theory chose to leave out and would not embrace.

 

VOTE OF THANKS

ePub

Cesare Sacerdoti

On behalf of us all I would like to thank Professor Green for a fascinating lecture.

As always, André has been provocative. There is a tendency to canonize many authors—but certainly that is not what André ever does; he always urges us primarily to read, and then to read again. He teaches us that just because something has not been looked at, does not mean that it is not worth looking at. That, basically, is the message that I have received from him tonight: it is no use repeating nice little packages and saying we need take just these, and then off we go. André has challenged all of us here tonight; some of us did not like it, that is quite obvious, but frankly I for one did not expect anything else! But this is success. This is tonight’s value.

When André speaks to people, he invariably asks if they have actually read the paper, idea, or book that was being considered. Too many of us tend to read between the lines—and not the lines themselves. It happens far, far too often.

 

ADDENDUM TO LECTURE

ePub

André Green

Conjectures about Winnicott’s unconscious counter-transference in the case of Masud Khan, in the light of the Wynne Godley case

In February 2001 Wynne Godley published a paper, “Saving Masud Khan” (2001), which created a great deal of concern among the analysts of the British Psychoanalytical Society, but not only among them. It generated much discussion and brought more plainly into the open the question of boundary violations. The Society’s Ethics Committee, represented by A.-M. Sandler, replied officially to Godley, addressing many of his complaints (2004). Exceptionally, although not uniquely, prior to this particular incident, other papers had dealt with the Masud Khan case—mostly by Linda Hopkins, who is currently working on a biography of him. In one of her papers, published before Godley’s paper appeared, she deals specifically with Winnicott’s analysis of Masud Khan (1998).

This Addendum proposes to show how Winnicott’s unconscious counter-transference was a contributory factor in the failure of the treatment. Its failure was also the result of some of Winnicott’s debatable ideas on technique, which have their own blind spots. All of this, combined, offered little hope—if there was any to begin with—of saving Masud Khan. Furthermore, it seeks to illustrate not only how play can transgress the limits of the setting but how it can also be turned into “foul play” (as in Hamlet). Linda Hopkins has dealt in her paper with Masud Khan’s application of play techniques to analytic consultation and the treatment of adults (Hopkins, 2000); here, however, we venture beyond what she reports.

 

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