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The Evolution of Winnicott's Thinking

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What happens to the thinking of a thinker who refuses a discipleship? This book attempts to answer this question in relation to D. W. Winnicott and the evolution of his thinking. He eschewed a following, privileging the independence of his thinking and fostering the same in others. However Winnicott's thinking exerts a growing influence in areas including psychoanalysis, psychology, and human development. This book looks at the nature of Winnicott's thought and its influence. It first examines the development of Winnicott's thinking through his own life time (first generation) and then continues this exploration by viewing the thinking in members of the group with a strong likelihood of influence from him; his analysands (second generation) and their analysands (third generation).

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Chapter One - Winnicott's own Maturational Process and Facilitating Environment

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In this chapter we chart Winnicott's thinking at the first level mentioned in the introduction. First, we outline the central subject of this study, which is Winnicott's thinking, giving concepts and then processes, briefly situating it within the thinking of Freud and Klein. We then survey its unfolding trajectory according to Winnicott's “fact of dependence” in a brief chronology of Winnicott's professional life which recognises the reliance of its maturational process on a facilitating environment. Here we also validate those characteristics of his thinking already hypothesised elsewhere and listed in Appendix A (Guntrip, 1975; Kahr, 1996; Spelman, 2001). Next, in further preparation for the exploration of Winnicott's thinking in subsequent generations, we consider the results of an analysis of the content of Winnicott's thinking. In this analysis are the portrayal of individual concepts and the cluster concepts which suggest themselves as Winnicott's perennial themes.

The parameters of Winnicott's thinking

 

Chapter Two - The Evolution of Winnicott's Thinking on Thinking and on Influence

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In this chapter, we first look briefly at the conscious effort made to ensure and maintain the influence of Winnicott's thinking after his death. Then we explore what Winnicott had to say at different times over his lifespan about his own thinking process and about influence. Next, with the aim of making explicit Winnicott's thinking about thinking, we examine those aspects of Winnicott's thinking that I propose make likely the further use of his thinking in other and subsequent thinking. We shall then examine the links between these ideas and those of Lovejoy on the history of ideas and explore how these are antithetical to those of Harold Bloom. In this discussion we clarify what is involved with these differing ways of thinking about the history of ideas and of influence and relate them to Winnicott's thinking. In doing so, we propose that Winnicott's specific and distinctive perspective on thinking and influence unfolds, and we make fully explicit his implicit theory about thinking, theory-building, influence, and the history of ideas.

 

Chapter Three - Marion Milner

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Introduction

Marion Blackett Milner (“Joanna Field”) was born in London in 1900 and died there in 1998 after a long, enjoyed life and a distinguished career during which she painted and wrote prodigiously, producing seven books and many articles. Milner kept a diary from age eleven and travelled extensively up until 1975. When she decided to undertake a psychoanalytic training in 1940 Milner was already a mother, an industrial psychologist, author of three books, and had worked with Elton Mayo on the Hawthorne Studies in the US. Milner's training analyst was Sylvia Payne. She had supervision from Melanie Klein, Joan Riviere, and Ella Freeman Sharpe, and attended Winnicott's weekly mother and baby clinics. The main transference seems to have happened instantaneously when Milner heard Winnicott lecture.

Milner's relationship with Winnicott

An indicator of Milner's importance to Winnicott is the fact that, compared to all other colleagues, Rodman's (2003) comprehensive biography dedicates a chapter each only to her and to Masud Khan.

 

Chapter Four - Enid Balint

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Introduction

Enid Flora Eicholtz Balint Edmonds was born on 12 December 1903 in London and died there aged ninety on 30 July 1994. She was a full member of the British Psychoanalytic Society from 1954, became a training analyst in 1963, thereafter holding many important offices. Analysed by Rickman (who also wrote about two-person psychology) and Winnicott, she was supervised by Melanie Klein and Marion Milner. Her identity was, first and last, an analyst, no matter what her work setting. She had a very full life and a career which included a global itinerary of professional speaking and training engagements and writing in many professional psychoanalytic and medical publications. In 1980 she was granted honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of General Practitioners.

Exploration of the Balint Archive14 shows that between 1943 and 1986, Enid Balint was author or co-author of six books and thirty journal articles published in several languages, followed by many more, including incomplete drafts of two books and a possible third which she was preparing for publishing at the time of her death: one unspecified, one entitled The Girl on the Roof/Listening to Strangers—which refers to an incident of rescuing a fellow pupil at school—and another, referred to as Balint's Wisdom Book.

 

Chapter Five - Masud Khan

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Introduction

Khan, who has been referred to as Winnicott's “favourite son” and “heir apparent”, had a close collaborative working relationship with Winnicott. He saw Winnicott's writing and thinking at most gestational stages and, in the literary transitional space in which it was formed—and where it is never clear who owns what—as Winnicott's editor he influenced the final shape taken by Winnicott's thinking when his books were published. Within Khan's own first three books in 1974 (1996), 1979 and 1983, there is a high frequency of references to particular papers of Winnicott's and Khan often used variants of the phrase: “I am essentially guided in my thinking on this subject by the researches of Winnicott”. This came after his general review of the history and literature of a concept and before he introduced his own “hypotheses”. This gives the impression that Khan's work is intrinsically suffused with, and emanates from, Winnicott's thinking rather than that there are discreet concepts within Khan's thinking which are influenced by Winnicott's thinking and which extend it.

 

Chapter Six - Margaret Little

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Margaret Little (1901–1994),23 formerly a GP, was a training analyst and an active member of the British Institute of Psychoanalysis's Independent Group, drawing from both sides after qualifying in 1945 amid the Controversial Discussions. Having been with two analysts,24 Little (1985, 1990) heard Winnicott speak and thought that he could help her. She considers her analysis with Winnicott between 1949 and 1955 and again in 1957 to have been formative and after analysis she continued professional contact with him.25

Little's publications26 cover territory familiar to Winnicott, such as the beginnings of the subject and early environmental failure. Suffused with Winnicott's thinking, her written contribution falls broadly into two kinds: her account of her analysis with Winnicott—an account that has received much attention27—and her own writing and thinking. Her account is considered to include the very worst and best of Winnicott.28 It shows “Winnicott's true self in action”, introducing the third dimension of “dialectics, irony and paradox into the psychoanalytic structure”, illustrating why Winnicott is sometimes seen as an “existential psychoanalyst” who “plumbed the ontological depths of our existence” (Grotstein in Little, 1990, p. 7).29 Little's most pressing issues were pre-symbolic and fundamental to existence and identity; instead of intrapsychic conflict, she saw total annihilation as a threat in infantile sexuality. Dr. X had told her to “be herself”, but she did not know what “herself” was (p. 27).

 

Chapter Seven - Harry Guntrip

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Harry J. S. Guntrip (1901–1975) began his career as a congregational pastor and Methodist minister. He was a psychologist, fellow of the British Psychological Society, a psychotherapist, and lecturer in the department of psychiatry at the university of Leeds, living close by with his wife and children.66 Guntrip published several papers and six books in his lifetime and his writing was widely read across several disciplines. Jeremy Hazell (1991), Guntrip's biographer,67 notes that like Winnicott, Guntrip was a gifted clinician, lecturer, public speaker, and writer who bridged many disciplines. John Sutherland (1980), who described him as “one of the psychoanalytic immortals”, links Balint, Winnicott, Fairbairn, and Guntrip together as “The British Object Relations Theorists”. He says that with their origins in physiology, Winnicott and Balint stopped short of a confrontation between the theories which they needed and those which were well established, whereas Fairbairn and Guntrip by virtue of their origins in philosophy did not. Guntrip is considered psychodynamic theory's unsurpassed expositor and Fairbairn's most readable exponent (Rayner, 1995; Markillie, 1996). He synthesises the work of Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn, and Winnicott.68 Guntrip (1975, p. 145) claimed for himself what Riviere claimed negatively for Winnicott, namely that his theory must be rooted in his pathology “and science is practically motivated”. He and others (Landis, 1981) felt that this explained his theoretical and clinical success with schizoid patients.

 

Chapter Eight - A Summary of Winnicott's Thinking Evolving in that of his Analytic “Children”

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Marion Milner

Milner's like-mindedness with Winnicott preceded their acquaintance. Winnicott's implicit theory about theory and influence (also Lovejoy's but not Bloom's) is evident in the fact that they wrote about the same phenomena separately during that time and also afterwards and that in the space between them thinking flourishes and finding/creating are often the same thing. The thinking and not the thinker has primacy so that where there might have been one there was in fact no issue about who owned what ideas. Milner's thinking shows many of the characteristics of Winnicott's thinking with the exception perhaps of making especially economic interventions and Milner's emphasis on personal rather than clinical experience. Broadly one could say that Winnicott's eleven themes were also hers and like him she is very much her “true self”, taking responsibility for conflicts within, bridge-building and communicating. In her unique contribution she confirms the links in Winnicott's thinking to visuo-spatial imagination, the thinking of Jung, Piaget, Daoism, organisational theory, art theory and art therapy, visualisation and progressive muscle relaxation techniques, Eastern and Western religious and spiritual traditions, English literature, and Greek mythology.

 

Chapter Nine - Enid Balint's Analytic “Children”: Juliet Hopkins, Jennifer Johns, and Juliet Mitchell

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Juliet Hopkins

Juliet Hopkins1 said that her mother, John Bowlby's younger sister, had been analysed by Joan Riviere2 and read Klein's 1932 (1989) The Psychoanalysis of Children before Hopkins was born in 1934. Her mother's “special insider knowledge” made Hopkins very curious3 which increased when, as an adolescent, she read the books of a female student at the Anna Freud Centre who lodged with them.

Hopkins has always affiliated herself with the Group of Independents, considering them unique in their welcoming of alternative approaches to widening psychoanalysis.4 She did a science degree—first biology and then psychology—at Cambridge University. This confirmed her feeling that science advances by learning from any discipline that can contribute, and contrasted with the Kleinian view that psychoanalysis can progress only through psychoanalytic findings. Hopkins was sympathetic to John Bowlby's scientific, research-based approach, but having trained as a clinical psychologist on his advice, she found that she preferred clinical work.5 Having decided to train as a child psychotherapist at the Tavistock, Hopkins preferred her encounter with Enid Balint to others and chose her as her training analyst,6 who then subsequently set up her supervision with Winnicott. Hopkins read Through Paediatrics to Psychoanalysis when it came out and felt that Winnicott was a genius. Hopkins completed three psychotherapy trainings.7

 

Chapter Ten - Masud Khan's analytic “children”: Christopher Bollas and Adam Phillips

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Christopher Bollas

Born in 1944, Christopher Bollas is an American who, after his first psychoanalysis as a student, subsequently became intellectually interested in it. He became a professor of English literature with an abiding interest in psychoanalysis which would ultimately see him forsake academic life for clinical work.149 He says of his three analyses, that he first had a Mexican Kleinian who had trained classically in America; his second analyst, Masud Khan, he refers to as a “Pakistani from the Independent Group”; and his third analyst is an Italian. Bollas feels that at their best, these three showed the universality of the psychoanalytic methodology and he was profoundly affected by them.150 In the spirit of Winnicott, Bollas comments that he learned from their technical mistakes as well as from their successes.

Because English was a second language for his analysts, Bollas felt that there was a generative hesitation built-in which slowed down the process in a helpful way and was a form of translation because there were no clichés and no linguistic laziness. He thinks that perhaps it was not a difficulty because his own father was French, and English was his fourth language. Bollas says that he is drawn to the Independent Group because of the permission not to speak and the emphasis on analytic quiet which is essential for reverie (Molino, 1995). Bollas came to Britain in 1973 to train simultaneously as a psychoanalyst in the British Institute of Psychoanalysis and as a psychotherapist at the Tavistock Training Institute.151 During his training he had such contrasting supervisors as Paula Heimann and Marian Milner. Bollas is globally recognised in the psychoanalytic community152 and his second identity is as a prolific writer. Whilst he is a very important contemporary figure in his own right, he also personifies an individual revitalising and extension of the thinking of both Winnicott and Wilfred Bion, his analytic forbearers, as well as a substantial fusion of their thinking.

 

Chapter Eleven - Marian Milner's Analytic “Children”: Pearl King and Andreas Giannakoulas

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In the case of Marion Milner, who was just four years younger than Winnicott, it has been difficult to find subjects and writing within the perimeter that this study sets itself within the domain of Winnicott's “analytic family”. In the interest of balance, it must be noted that simultaneously in the general psychoanalytic community—her own and worldwide—a considerable literature continues to be generated commemorating Marion Milner and her ideas.236

Pearl King

Pearl King was born in East Croyden, Surrey in 1918.237 She was raised in Africa and from 1941 to 1946 studied at Bedford College, University College London and qualified as a social and industrial psychologist. She has been politically active and concerned with workers' rights throughout her life (King, 2005). King became a candidate of the Institute of Psychoanalysis in 1946, qualified in 1951, becoming a full member in 1954 and a training analyst in 1955. John Rickman (coiner of the phrase “two person psychology”) was her training analyst and Marion Milner was her second analyst after Rickman's sudden death. From 1946 to 1950 (whilst also working at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations doing industrial research) she was supervised by Marion Milner, Michael Balint, and Donald Winnicott. She met and was influenced by Sylvia Payne, Paula Heimann, and Hanna Segal. King is much published238 and has been very active within the BPAS,239 holding many positions there including that of first non-medical president. In 1992 she and Hanna Segal were jointly awarded the Sigourney Prize for outstanding contributions to psychoanalysis. Pearl King's eightieth birthday was celebrated by, amongst other things, the publication of a festschrift (Steiner & Johns, 2001).240

 

Chapter Twelve - Margaret Little's Analytic “Child”: Ralph Layland

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Ralph Layland

Born in 1930255 and educated in Sheffield, W. Ralph Layland was accepted as an undergraduate in the medical school of Sheffield University in 1950 and qualified MB ChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) in 1956. After completing the compulsory house jobs, he worked as a junior doctor on the general medical wards in two of the Sheffield teaching hospitals. It was during this period that he conducted a survey into the incidence of chronic bronchitis amongst the workers in the gas industry in Sheffield and in nearby Rotherham, for which he was awarded the degree of MD in 1964.256

In 1962, he moved out of general medicine into his chosen specialty, psychiatry. In 1956, Dr. Erwin Stengel257 had been appointed to the newly established Chair of Psychiatry in the University of Sheffield and Layland was accepted as a junior doctor in his department. Layland's ultimate aim was to train to be a psychoanalyst and Professor Stengel was very supportive and encouraging of his wish to undergo the training at the Institute of Psychoanalysis. This meant that he would have to move to the London area and get a post in a psychiatric department that would be prepared to allow him time to go for his personal analysis, five times a week. Stengel suggested that he should visit two large mental hospitals near St. Albans258 and Layland was fortunate enough to be appointed as a senior registrar at Napsbury Hospital.

 

Chapter Thirteen - A Summary of the Evolution of Winnicott's Thinking in that of his Analytic “Grandchildren”

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Marion Milner's analytic “children”

Pearl King

Pearl King has been celebrated for her significant contribution to psychoanalysis worldwide. Like Winnicott she is a committed clinician, an independent and pluralistic thinker, a bridge builder, motivated communicator, preoccupied with a collaborative stance with parents, with non-dogma, and a supporter of fair systems.

As an archivist, King always introduced the dimension of time to her work, to training novice psychoanalysts in Winnicott's important technique of waiting, in his idea of transitional space with a fifty-year case study, and in his idea of true self living in the patient's relation to time, in lifecycle issues and treatment of the elderly in psychoanalysis.

Amongst King's contributions to the evolution of Winnicott's thinking is her personification of a re-connection with Klein and a link with Rickman and Erikson. She connects psychoanalysis to its past, to industrial and clinical psychology, and to the psychotherapists transferring to psychoanalytic practice. She gives us a glimpse of Winnicott as both a supervisor and collaborator on the fifty-year-long case. She embodies a link between Michael Balint and Winnicott to the extent that both supervised her. Those concepts of Winnicott's that she expands include: subjectivity, inherited potential, transitional space, and true self related to sense of time.

 

Appendix A - Chronology of Winnicott's Thinking with Characteristics and Facilitative Features

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The following abbreviated commentary elucidates main features of the process of thinking unfolding over the course of Winnicott's life in the manner that his three stages of dependence and “fact of dependence” ideas predict. It marks as facilitative (facilitative) those of his concepts which this study proposes are making provision for the use of his thinking in that of others. It lists and then includes in its third section one instance of proof of each from a list of previously hypothesised of Winnicott's characteristics (Guntrip, 1975; Kahr, 1996; Spelman, 2001). It is compiled from a large comprehensive commentary derived from a chronological reading of his selected letters (Rodman, 1993) and all of Winnicott's writing in book volumes, with the exception of Human Nature, written over very many years, Clinical Notes on Disorders of Childhood (1931), which is unavailable, as well as his accounts of an adult and of a child analysis.

Section one: absolute dependence and professional beginnings (1919–1941)

 

Appendix B - Content Analysis

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Audience categories

Winnicott's principal concepts

The main concepts that occur in Winnicott's writing (excluding specified unavailable writing and correspondence) are listed here:

mind–body alliance, advocating for psychoanalysis, anti-indoctrination and anti-dogma stance, moral development, history-taking, inner reality, unconscious, health, creativity, symbolism, anxiety, experience, transitional phenomena, collaboration, conflict, maturational processes and the facilitating environment, mother function, holding, aggression, destructiveness, mother–infant unit, therapeutic consultations, transitional space, individual difference, culture, depressive position, playing, infant's mental life, primitive mechanisms, Klein's ideas, spontaneity, period of hesitation, fusion of affect, infancy/analysis analogy, enjoyment, potential space, antisocial tendency, deprivation, privation, treatment models, delinquency, reparation, benign cycle, capacity for concern, reliable care, clinical experience, analysis/infancy analogy, space, boundary, boundary formation, three maturational processes (integration, realisation and personalisation), three mother functions (handling, holding and object presenting) pre-object stage, ego formation, ego distortion, ego deficit, ego needs, ego relatedness, id relatedness, setting, pre-oedipal, oedipal, pre-concern, survival, use of an object, disillusionment, illusion, illusion of unity, ‘good enough’ mother, intrusion, fact of dependence, infant meta-psychology, complexity, primary creativity, objective love, objective hate, classification, healthy sexual development, hostel design, parental/ mental nursing, true/false self, unintegration, stages of dependence (absolute dependence, relative dependence, towards independence) subjectivity, primary maternal pre-occupation, primary anxieties, regression, psyche-soma, relaxation, impingement, environment, continuity-of-being, father's role, set situation, sense of guilt, adaptation, being, doing, primitive loving, externalising the object, subjective object, objective object, science Vs intuition, infant research, infant observation, squiggle game, group psychology, practice management, obsessive depressive distinction, act of hope, primary identification, relaxation, latency, preverbal, non-verbal and unverbalisable material, silence, capacity to be alone, ‘I Am’ stage, ‘I Am Alone’ stage, unit status, ego orgasm, paradox, motility drive, team work, superego, one's own language, technique, adolescence, auto-eroticism, subjectivity, primary narcissism, Freudian footnote, cost efficiency, anti—envy and death wish stance, visuo-spatial imagination, existential psychoanalysis, value of depression, fear of breakdown, silence, preschooler's meta-psychology, feminism, imagination, withdrawal, receptive stance, split-off male and female elements, bisexuality, infantile schizophrenia, autism, loss cure/care, individuation, residential care as therapy.

 

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