The Winnicott Tradition: Lines of Development

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This volume in a book series on psychoanalytic leaders, provides a geographically global sampler of writing stemming from Winnicott's complex and paradoxical thinking. In the first section, on his work and legacy, his thinking is put into a context to reveal something of the origins, significant milestones, contemporary development, and theoretical expansion of his thinking. In the second section, there is a recognition of the fact that Winnicott privileged clinical work. This section aims to illustrate the evolution of theory, expansion of concepts and applications of Winnicott's body of work to the clinical situation with both children and adults in a variety of settings which include private practice, the health services and residential programmes in a varied array of settings worldwide. The third section on applications of Winnicott's work outside the consulting room celebrates his special capacity as a bridge-builder and as a figure whose work has had a very wide appeal and influence. His work continues to grow in its influence and to an unusual degree it informs the work of allied professionals and those in very many different disciplines, domains of thought and work sectors to that of the traditional clinical ones of health and education. Several chapters indicate how his creativity inspired those in the creative disciplines. Lastly, the fourth section provides personal reflections and accounts from those familiar with Winnicott's work or with the man himself and gives the reader an opportunity to experience the evolution of his thinking and influence through the eyes of contributors who have pertinent historical recollections and experiences.

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CHAPTER ONE Has Winnicott become a Winnicottian?

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CHAPTER ONE

Has Winnicott become a Winnicottian?*

Martin James

I

t’s very nice of you all to come. I thought you’d have to fight the weather but you only had to fight the title, really. I hope it’s not too much an insider’s word, this “Winnicottian”, but it probably is familiar to most of you.

Well, I was going to begin by saying that I wonder if we in this room were given some money and were told to think about what could be done to advance Freud’s work which he began in 1895 or thereabouts, when he began to make it public, what on earth would we spend the money on? So, that is merely hypothetical at that point, but it became completely concrete for the six members of the Winnicott Trust, when Clare endowed us with quite a sizeable capital sum and income from Donald’s own publications which amounts to half, really, of the capital sum per year—or has done, of course that will change.

The interesting thing really was that we decided the best thing to do was to consider how

 

Chapter One - Has Winnicott become a Winnicottian?

ePub

Martin James

It's very nice of you all to come. I thought you'd have to fight the weather but you only had to fight the title, really. I hope it's not too much an insider's word, this “Winnicottian”, but it probably is familiar to most of you.

Well, I was going to begin by saying that I wonder if we in this room were given some money and were told to think about what could be done to advance Freud's work which he began in 1895 or thereabouts, when he began to make it public, what on earth would we spend the money on? So, that is merely hypothetical at that point, but it became completely concrete for the six members of the Winnicott Trust, when Clare endowed us with quite a sizeable capital sum and income from Donald's own publications which amounts to half, really, of the capital sum per year—or has done, of course that will change.

The interesting thing really was that we decided the best thing to do was to consider how Donald would have wanted it spent. And to do that we thought we'd better look at his writings which we were doing anyway because three of the six of us were editors and editing all of the bits that hadn't got put together before, and that they've done magnificently. And the papers themselves, the letters, were therefore familiar to us, and then there was the question of how he actually spent his life, and that's manifest from reading the titles and the audiences to whom he addressed himself, which were very various.

 

CHAPTER TWO Winnicott’s constant search for the life that feels real

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CHAPTER TWO

Winnicott’s constant search for the life that feels real

James William Anderson

Introduction

“He just makes theory out of his own sickness.” According to Masud Khan, that is the dismissive claim Joan Riviere put forth at the conclusion of a public lecture by Donald W.

Winnicott (Anderson, 1981d). Such a statement from anyone is objectionable, but coming from

Joan Riviere, who had been Winnicott’s analyst, it is unspeakable. Yet underneath her pathologising twist, there is an element of truth, in that all psychological theorists rely heavily on their most personal experience in developing their theories (Anderson, 2005). Freud no doubt had a torrid Oedipus complex. Erik Erikson (Coles, 1970, p. 180), originator of the concept of the identity crisis, observed, “If ever an identity crisis was central and long drawn out in somebody’s life, it was so in mine”. Henry A. Murray, with much better humour than Riviere, noted once, referring to theories of human development, “They’re all autobiographies, every one of them”

 

Chapter Two - Winnicott's Constant Search for the Life that Feels Real

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James William Anderson

Introduction

“He just makes theory out of his own sickness.” According to Masud Khan, that is the dismissive claim Joan Riviere put forth at the conclusion of a public lecture by Donald W. Winnicott (Anderson, 1981d). Such a statement from anyone is objectionable, but coming from Joan Riviere, who had been Winnicott's analyst, it is unspeakable. Yet underneath her pathologising twist, there is an element of truth, in that all psychological theorists rely heavily on their most personal experience in developing their theories (Anderson, 2005). Freud no doubt had a torrid Oedipus complex. Erik Erikson (Coles, 1970, p. 180), originator of the concept of the identity crisis, observed, “If ever an identity crisis was central and long drawn out in somebody's life, it was so in mine”. Henry A. Murray, with much better humour than Riviere, noted once, referring to theories of human development, “They're all autobiographies, every one of them” (Anderson, 1975). In examining Winnicott's life, my main objective is to explore the connection between his life and work. While I make use of the published sources, I also rely heavily on interviews I did in the 1980s with a number of people who knew him, such as Khan and Clare Winnicott, Marion Milner, Margaret Little, and Anna Freud.

 

Chapter Three - “People who Think in Pictures”: The Continuing Dialogue between Marion Milner and Donald Winnicott in Bothered by Alligators

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Emma Letley

To take the phrase employed by Lesley Caldwell and Angela Joyce in their recent Reading Winnicott, Milner and Winnicott were in “continuing dialogue” from their meeting in the late 1930s (Caldwell & Joyce, 2012, p. 10). It was a public lecture given by Winnicott in 1938 that prompted Milner to begin her Freudian analysis with Sylvia Payne, and in 1939, to apply for and be accepted by the British Psychoanalytical Society. She attended many of his mothers and babies clinics and was particularly impressed with his famous “spatula game”. Their dialogue carries on posthumously with the publication in 2012 of Milner's final autobiographical book, Bothered by Alligators, the account of her late-life discovery and analysis of her son's childhood story book. This book consists of the diary Milner kept from when her son was about two years old until he was around ten, an illustrated storybook he made when he was a schoolboy, her reflections on that story book and sections on, for example, her own pictures and collages, her family background, and on “D. W. Winnicott and me”. Alligators gives us a lens to think anew about the connections between these two great figures.

 

CHAPTER THREE “People who think in pictures”: the continuing dialogue between Marion Milner and Donald Winnicott in Bothered by Alligators

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CHAPTER THREE

“People who think in pictures”: the continuing dialogue between Marion Milner and Donald

Winnicott in Bothered by Alligators

Emma Letley

T

o take the phrase employed by Lesley Caldwell and Angela Joyce in their recent Reading

Winnicott, Milner and Winnicott were in “continuing dialogue” from their meeting in the late 1930s (Caldwell & Joyce, 2012, p. 10). It was a public lecture given by Winnicott in 1938 that prompted Milner to begin her Freudian analysis with Sylvia Payne, and in 1939, to apply for and be accepted by the British Psychoanalytical Society. She attended many of his mothers and babies clinics and was particularly impressed with his famous “spatula game”.

Their dialogue carries on posthumously with the publication in 2012 of Milner’s final autobiographical book, Bothered by Alligators, the account of her late-life discovery and analysis of her son’s childhood story book. This book consists of the diary Milner kept from when her son was about two years old until he was around ten, an illustrated storybook he made when he was a schoolboy, her reflections on that story book and sections on, for example, her own pictures and collages, her family background, and on “D. W. Winnicott and me”. Alligators gives us a lens to think anew about the connections between these two great figures.

 

Chapter Four - Unassimilated Aggression and the Emergence of the Unit Self: Winnicott, Jung, and Matte Blanco

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William Meredith-Owen

Introduction

I suspect the subtitle of this paper may well, for many readers, place Winnicott in unfamiliar company, but I hope that this may prove to be a context that can offer a fresh and perhaps even challenging perspective on a core concern of Winnicott's last years, namely the emergence of a “unit self” capable of making proper and full “use of an object” (Winnicott, 1969). His pursuit of this theme led Winnicott towards a more creative reading of the nature of drive and even further away from the classical Freudian presumption of the unconscious as essentially the repository of the repressed. It is this element that links Winnicott with Jung and Matte Blanco, for they too, albeit in distinctive but also complementary ways, invite us to a radical reconsideration of the dynamic and potentially generative nature of the unconscious.

Winnicott needs no introduction. Carl Jung (1875–1961) will at least be a widely recognised name, perhaps most readily associated with his advocacy of reparative engagement with what he termed “the collective unconscious”. Ignacio Matte Blanco (1908–1995) was a Chilean psychiatrist who trained as an analyst at the Institute in London, before eventually settling in Italy and becoming an increasingly influential figure through his two major works, The Unconscious as Infinite Sets (1975) and Thinking, Feeling and Being (1988). His particular contribution was to apply the complexities and paradoxes of mathematical logic to the psychoanalytic unconscious, establishing what he termed a bi-logic frame within which two contrasting modes of being, the symmetric and the asymmetric, could be envisaged in dynamic tension.

 

CHAPTER FOUR Unassimilated aggression and the emergence of the unit self: Winnicott, Jung, and Matte Blanco

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CHAPTER FOUR

Unassimilated aggression and the emergence of the unit self: Winnicott, Jung, and Matte Blanco

William Meredith-Owen

Introduction

I suspect the subtitle of this paper may well, for many readers, place Winnicott in unfamiliar company, but I hope that this may prove to be a context that can offer a fresh and perhaps even challenging perspective on a core concern of Winnicott’s last years, namely the emergence of a

“unit self” capable of making proper and full “use of an object” (Winnicott, 1969). His pursuit of this theme led Winnicott towards a more creative reading of the nature of drive and even further away from the classical Freudian presumption of the unconscious as essentially the repository of the repressed. It is this element that links Winnicott with Jung and Matte Blanco, for they too, albeit in distinctive but also complementary ways, invite us to a radical reconsideration of the dynamic and potentially generative nature of the unconscious.

 

Chapter Five - Winnicott and Bion: Claiming Alternate Legacies

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R. D. Hinshelwood

Winnicott and Wilfred Bion (1897–1979) were contemporaries, born a year and a half apart. Both saw war service at the end of the First World War (although with very different experiences). With very different origins, and intentions towards psychoanalysis, they appear to have become a couple of outsized personalities trying to live in much the same space—the space they each created being to develop Kleinian ideas. Melanie Klein was an enormous influence on both, and both express cautious respect towards her, though not necessarily towards her followers. Winnicott had a number of years of supervision with Klein, and she eventually arranged for his second analysis, with Joan Riviere (though apparently he would have preferred to have the analysis with Klein herself). Bion did have his analysis with Melanie Klein and, in his inimical way, managed loyalty with independence. Winnicott too ended up similarly loyal but independent; however, he felt an enduring hurtful exclusion.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Winnicott and Bion: claiming alternate legacies

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CHAPTER FIVE

Winnicott and Bion: claiming alternate legacies

R. D. Hinshelwood

W

innicott and Wilfred Bion (1897–1979) were contemporaries, born a year and a half apart. Both saw war service at the end of the First World War (although with very different experiences). With very different origins, and intentions towards psychoanalysis, they appear to have become a couple of outsized personalities trying to live in much the same space—the space they each created being to develop Kleinian ideas. Melanie Klein was an enormous influence on both, and both express cautious respect towards her, though not necessarily towards her followers. Winnicott had a number of years of supervision with Klein, and she eventually arranged for his second analysis, with Joan Riviere (though apparently he would have preferred to have the analysis with Klein herself). Bion did have his analysis with Melanie

Klein and, in his inimical way, managed loyalty with independence. Winnicott too ended up similarly loyal but independent; however, he felt an enduring hurtful exclusion.

 

Chapter Six - Winnicott's Anni Horribiles: The Biographical Roots of “Hate in the Counter-Transference”

ePub

Brett Kahr

I don't know what to do with the hate.

Winnicott, 1967, p. 3

I

According to the London weather report, Wednesday 5 February 1947 proved to be a bitterly cold and dull day, with virtually no sunlight. Indeed, the entire winter of 1947, marked by arctic blizzards, power cuts, and a fuel crisis, could only be described as grim (Payn & Morley, 1982). That evening, the fifty-year-old Winnicott trudged through the darkened, snowy streets of Central London, towards 96 Gloucester Place, not far from Baker Street, to read a paper to his clinical colleagues at a fortnightly Scientific Meeting of the British Psychoanalytical Society. As a physician at the Paddington Green Children's Hospital, in West London, and as a psychoanalyst in private practice on Queen Anne Street, not far from Gloucester Place, Winnicott had already accumulated a wealth of medical and psychological experience, and he had no difficulties writing about his work in great depth. But on this occasion, however, he presented an unusually short essay—a mere six pages in length in its printed version—entitled, quite unremarkably, “Some observations on hate”. Though ostensibly straightforward as a topic, Winnicott's contribution seems to have provoked many of his colleagues. Some, in fact, might dare to describe the paper, even today, as outrageous. The late Dr Colin James (1991), a young physician who subsequently trained as a psychoanalyst, recalled that when he had first encountered Winnicott's paper, he found it shocking in extremis.

 

CHAPTER SIX Winnicott’s anni horribiles: the biographical roots of “Hate in the counter-transference”

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CHAPTER SIX

Winnicott’s anni horribiles: the biographical roots of “Hate in the counter-transference”

Brett Kahr

I don’t know what to do with the hate.

—Winnicott, 1967, p. 3

I

According to the London weather report, Wednesday 5 February 1947 proved to be a bitterly cold and dull day, with virtually no sunlight. Indeed, the entire winter of 1947, marked by arctic blizzards, power cuts, and a fuel crisis, could only be described as grim (Payn & Morley,

1982). That evening, the fifty-year-old Winnicott trudged through the darkened, snowy streets of Central London, towards 96 Gloucester Place, not far from Baker Street, to read a paper to his clinical colleagues at a fortnightly Scientific Meeting of the British Psychoanalytical Society. As a physician at the Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, in West London, and as a psychoanalyst in private practice on Queen Anne Street, not far from Gloucester Place, Winnicott had already accumulated a wealth of medical and psychological experience, and he had no difficulties writing about his work in great depth. But on this occasion, however, he presented an unusually short essay—a mere six pages in length in its printed version—entitled, quite unremarkably,

 

CHAPTER SEVEN Between Winnicott and Lacan

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Between Winnicott and Lacan

Lewis A. Kirshner

I

n this chapter, I approach the relationship between the work of Winnicott and Lacan from three angles. First, I discuss the historical record of their actual encounters and interactions.

This amounts to a limited set of facts that evokes the notion of a missed encounter proposed by Alain Vanier (2012). Second, I argue that Winnicott and Lacan in their own very different ways shared the aim of moving beyond the mechanistic and biological models of the psyche that informed classical psychoanalytic theory to focus on the singularity of each person.

This shift suggests parallels and overlaps between their approaches to the human subject and the self. Last, Winnicott and Lacan can be seen as representatives of two dialectical poles of psychoanalysis, the impersonal causality of structure and the personal dimension of meaning, that inform clinical practice.

The historical relationship

 

Chapter Seven - Between Winnicott and Lacan

ePub

Lewis A. Kirshner

In this chapter, I approach the relationship between the work of Winnicott and Lacan from three angles. First, I discuss the historical record of their actual encounters and interactions. This amounts to a limited set of facts that evokes the notion of a missed encounter proposed by Alain Vanier (2012). Second, I argue that Winnicott and Lacan in their own very different ways shared the aim of moving beyond the mechanistic and biological models of the psyche that informed classical psychoanalytic theory to focus on the singularity of each person. This shift suggests parallels and overlaps between their approaches to the human subject and the self. Last, Winnicott and Lacan can be seen as representatives of two dialectical poles of psychoanalysis, the impersonal causality of structure and the personal dimension of meaning, that inform clinical practice.

The historical relationship

The historical record of contacts between Winnicott and Lacan is brief. Roundinesco (1990, 1997) and Vanier (2011, 2012) have reviewed much of the evidence, on which I have drawn extensively. Lacan was an admirer of things British, including contributions to psychoanalysis, which he contrasted favourably to the organicist models prevailing in France during his period of training. In 1945, he spent several weeks in England studying the role of psychiatry in wartime, about which he wrote a lengthy article (1947). In this rather polemical piece, he mentions Bion and Klein, but Winnicott is absent. Lacan's important paper, “Some reflections on the ego” (1953), written while he was still an active and dominant member of the Paris Psychoanalytic Society and seeking recognition for his work on the mirror stage, was read before the British Psychoanalytical Society on 2 May 1951. We do not know whether Winnicott was in attendance or, if so, was influenced by the paper in the development of his own ideas about the mirror stage, as he suggested in his paper of 1967. However, it was his work on the transitional object, first published in 1953, that captured Lacan's greatest attention and stimulated efforts to assimilate Winnicott's ideas into his own system. At many points, Lacan expressed an admiring or at least appreciative view of Winnicott (1956–57, 1967–68, Vanier, 2011), especially with regard to the concept of the transitional object. Speaking in London at the Institut Francais in 1975, several years after Winnicott's demise in 1971, Lacan again linked his own concept of the objet a to the transitional object and commented on his good fortune (la chance) to have known Winnicott (qtd. in Vanier, 2011).

 

Chapter Eight - A Measure of Agreement: An Exploration of the Relationship of Winnicott and Phyllis Greenacre

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Nellie L. Thompson

This paper investigates hitherto unexplored connections between Winnicott and Phyllis Greenacre (1894–1989). I first became aware of their relationship while reading Winnicott's paper “The use of an object and relating through identifications” published after his death in Playing and Reality (Winnicott, 1971). The earliest version of this paper, simply titled “The use of an object”, was presented to a scientific meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society on 12 November 1968, the proceedings of which have become mired in myth and controversy. The paper evoked respectful but deeply perplexed reactions from the three discussants: Samuel Ritvo, a prominent child and adolescent analyst, Bernard Fine, a training analyst, and Edith Jacobson, author of The Self, the Object and the Outside World (1964).

A report by David Milrod admirably conveys how the evening's participants understood Winnicott's paper.

The central thesis of Dr Winnicott's paper is the proposition that the use of an object constitutes a more advanced and sophisticated stage of development than does relating to an object…At first there is object-relating…in the end there is object use. In between lies the area of most change, whereby the subject finally accepts the object's position outside the sphere of his omnipotent control as a separate, external entity, and not as a projected one. (Milrod, 1968, p. 1)

 

CHAPTER EIGHT A measure of agreement: an exploration of the relationship of Winnicott and Phyllis Greenacre

PDF

CHAPTER EIGHT

A measure of agreement: an exploration of the relationship of Winnicott and Phyllis Greenacre*

Nellie L. Thompson

T

his paper investigates hitherto unexplored connections between Winnicott and Phyllis

Greenacre (1894–1989). I first became aware of their relationship while reading Winnicott’s paper “The use of an object and relating through identifications” published after his death in Playing and Reality (Winnicott, 1971). The earliest version of this paper, simply titled “The use of an object”, was presented to a scientific meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society on

12 November 1968, the proceedings of which have become mired in myth and controversy. The paper evoked respectful but deeply perplexed reactions from the three discussants: Samuel

Ritvo, a prominent child and adolescent analyst, Bernard Fine, a training analyst, and Edith

Jacobson, author of The Self, the Object and the Outside World (1964).

A report by David Milrod admirably conveys how the evening’s participants understood

 

CHAPTER NINE On potential space

PDF

CHAPTER NINE

On potential space*

Thomas H. Ogden

Introduction

Perhaps the most important and at the same time most elusive of the ideas introduced by Donald Winnicott is the concept of potential space. Potential space is the general term

Winnicott used to refer to an intermediate area of experiencing that lies between fantasy and reality. Specific forms of potential space include the play space, the area of the transitional object and phenomena, the analytic space, the area of cultural experience, and the area of creativity.

The concept of potential space remains enigmatic in part because it has been so difficult to extricate the meaning of the concept from the elegant system of images and metaphors in which it is couched. The present paper is an attempt to clarify the concept of potential space and to explore the implications that this aspect of Winnicott’s work holds for a psychoanalytic theory of the normal and pathological development of the capacity for symbolisation and subjectivity.

 

Chapter Nine - On Potential Space

ePub

Thomas H. Ogden

Introduction

Perhaps the most important and at the same time most elusive of the ideas introduced by Donald Winnicott is the concept of potential space. Potential space is the general term Winnicott used to refer to an intermediate area of experiencing that lies between fantasy and reality. Specific forms of potential space include the play space, the area of the transitional object and phenomena, the analytic space, the area of cultural experience, and the area of creativity. The concept of potential space remains enigmatic in part because it has been so difficult to extricate the meaning of the concept from the elegant system of images and metaphors in which it is couched. The present paper is an attempt to clarify the concept of potential space and to explore the implications that this aspect of Winnicott's work holds for a psychoanalytic theory of the normal and pathological development of the capacity for symbolisation and subjectivity.

 

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