62 Slices
Medium 9781855752368

3. The personality of the foetus

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Lloyd deMause

There is much more continuity between intra-uterine life and earliest infancy than the impressive caesura of the act of birth would have us believe.

[Freud, 1926, p. 138]

Donald Winnicott’s beginnings as a paediatrician gave him a unique ability to empathize with children and with the childhood experiences of his adult patients. But Winni-cott’s genius allowed him to take a giant step further: he did not hesitate to acknowledge the reality of foetal experiences—and even the foetal personality—in his patients, to help them relive perinatal trauma and resolve some of their deepest anxieties.

Even though Freud (1900a, p. 400) said that he had come to believe that “the act of birth is the first experience of anxiety”, Winnicott had no major psychoanalytic writings on foetal memories to draw upon. However, taking pains to separate his observations fromRank’s (1929) birth-trauma speculations, Winnicott (1949b) wrote amajor paper on the subject: “Birth Memories, Birth Trauma, and Anxiety”. This seminal article, however, was little noticed, since, as he said: “It is rare to find doctors who believe that the experience of birth is important to the baby, that it could have any significance in the emotional development of the individual, and that memory traces of the experience could persist and give rise to trouble even in the adult” (Winnicott, 1949b, p. 175).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752375

4. Children who kill their teddy bears

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Valerie Sinason

“And they smiled so sweetly as they ate her dolls and bears she knew no toy could hold her”

Valerie Sinason, “The Re Naming”, 1982

In 1903, Rainer Maria Rilke, anticipating Donald Winnicott’s (1953a) paper on transitional objects by nearly fifty years, understood many of the emotional uses to which a toy, a “thing”, could be put in the service of the child’s developmental needs. In being the first not-me possession, it must survive loving and hating; it can be cuddled, attacked, and mutilated; it has to appear to have some life of its own, to not be an hallucination; it must be able to contain in its actuality the longings, needs, and projections of the child; and finally, it is neither forgotten nor mourned, but eventually loses meanings. It stands for the first relationship, largely that with the mother.

With loving, good-enough parenthood, the child can negotiate the ordinary painful difficulties of life and achieve the disillusionment that comes from having been allowed the state of illusion previously. The child can move from magical control to muscular control, and finally let go. The thumb, the corner of the blanket, the teddy bear, the doll, can all finally be put aside but not disappear. At times of adult difficulty, they can return as cigarettes, as drink, as executive toys, or even as transitional people. Where there are greater difficulties, they are transformed into fetishes where they continue their life in various forms of adult sexuality.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752375

3. Primary maternal persecution

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Joan Raphael-Leff

Winnicott backs up his much-quoted aphorism that “there is no such thing as a baby” by quoting Freud’s footnote referring to a psychical system of infant and maternal care (Freud, 1911b). In his theory of the parent-infant relationship, Winnicott (1960b) focuses on early emotional development within the psychic system and the impact of maternal care in facilitating or failing a baby’s journey from absolute dependence. In this chapter, I examine this mother-infant psychic system from the other point of view—that of the emotional impact on the woman of being in close contact with a dependent newborn who has come out of her body and for whom she is responsible. I propose to treat this system as a prenatal rather than postnatal one, and, furthermore, I consider the possibility that within this interactive system, far from experiencing benevolent “primary maternal preoccupation” (Winnicott, 1956a), some mothers may be caught up with what I have termed “primary maternal persecution” (Raphael-Leff, 1986).

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855752368

2. An meeting with Donald Winnicott in 1965

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

Paul Roazen

Every interview that I conducted with any of the early psy choanalysts always succeeded in teaching me something special. While many of those that I saw during my most intense fieldwork during the mid-1960s were either relatively obscure then or have been generally forgotten by now, Donald Winnicott remains an outstanding exception to any such generalization. For, rather to my amazement, his stature has continued to grow, so that there is now not only a large bust of him at the headquarters of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, but his writings have been translated into many languages. With the passage of time, his reputation has eclipsed that of many who were once considered leading representatives of the profession.

It is true that at the time I proposed to see Winnicott in September of 1965, he had already been recommended to me by someone as reliably intellectual as Dr Charles Rycroft as “the genius of British analysis”. Rycroft went through Winnicott’s (1958a) book Collected Papers: Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis in order to help tutor me about which articles I ought to read first.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781855751361

CHAPTER FIVE. Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere

Brett Kahr Karnac Books ePub

James Strachey not only conducted Winnicott’s first analysis, but, as we have indicated, he also urged the young paediatrician to seek the acquaintance of Melanie Reizes Klein (1882-1960), a formidably talented psychoanalytic practitioner who would influence Winnicott profoundly. After she became excited by Freud’s writings, Mrs Klein trained as an analyst in Hungary and in Germany; indeed, she pioneered the field of child psychoanalysis almost single-handedly, encouraged by two of Freud’s closest colleagues, Sandor Ferenczi and Karl Abraham. After a very brief but highly successful lecture tour in London in 1925, Klein emigrated to England permanently in September of 1926, at the invitation of Ernest Jones, who greatly respected the quality of her clinical and theoretical work. Furthermore, Jones also needed a talented child psychoanalyst to treat his young children; and Mrs Klein seemed to be the ideal candidate for this important position, as it would have proved impossible for Jones to entrust his family to any of his younger and more inexperienced British colleagues (cf. Brome, 1982; Grosskurth, 1986). After her arrival in London, Klein did eventually undertake the treatment of Jones’s children, Mervyn and Gwenith, and of Jones’s wife, Katherine, as well.

See All Chapters

See All Slices