D. W. Winnicott
Publication Year: 1995
‘The importance of Michael Jacobs' book lies in his attempt to convey ... Winnicott's profound influence ... Jacobs rightly delights in the creativity and imagination of his subject and illustrates these with numerous quotations and descriptions from Winnicott's writings ... What is conveyed throughout the book is the essence of Winnicott ... [whose] gift was to make psychoanalytic language, methods and concepts more widely available, accepted and appreciated to a non-psychoanalytic world’ — British Psychological Society Counselling Psychology Review. One of the best-known British psychoanalysts, D W Winnicott attracts the interest of counsellors and psychotherapists far beyond the strict psychoanalytic tradition.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Key Figures in Counselling and Psychotherapy[Page ii]
Series editor: Windy Dryden
The Key Figures in Counselling and Psychotherapy series of books provides a concise, accessible introduction to the lives, contributions and influence of the leading innovators whose theoretical and practical work has had a profound impact on counselling and psychotherapy. The series includes comprehensive overviews of:
by Michael Jacobs
by Ian Stewart
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by Petrūska Clarkson and Jennifer Mackewn
Aaron T. Beck
by Marjorie E. Weishaar
by Joseph Yankura and Windy Dryden
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D. W. Winnicott
by Michael Jacobs
© Michael Jacobs 1995
First published 1995
Reprinted 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008
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When the series editor offered me the opportunity to write about D. W. Winnicott, he gave me the chance to learn as much as I had done in writing about Freud, for the first volume in this series. As with that book, he provided me with the incentive to read more widely and more thoroughly in the considerable literature by and on Winnicott, whom I had up to that point quoted with obvious relish whenever I wished to find legitimacy for a less than orthodox view on psychoanalytic theory or practice. As I suggest in the closing paragraphs (which at this point are to the reader yet a long way off), I think I may not have been alone in using his name in this way. When teaching a course at the time of writing the concluding chapter, I commented to the group upon the informality with which Winnicott greeted Guntrip at the start of Guntrip's therapy sessions. The response from one course member illustrated a second way in which his name is used. She said, ‘Ah, but Winnicott was Winnicott.’ In other words, there are unorthodox ways in psychoanalysis, and that shows how progressive it is, but they are not for the likes of us. At first I was tempted to respond in turn that we are all Winnicotts, although I suspect that this would not have been in the spirit of the man. ‘We are all ourselves, and we might actually need to become ourselves’ would possibly have been a more appropriate reply, had I at the time thought quickly enough.
In fact, as I discovered when I read through the sources on his life, Winnicott was not as unorthodox as I had imagined. The picture is a complex one, just as the politics of psychoanalysis is complicated, and he needs to be understood against that background. I have discovered the appropriateness of questioning both him and his ideas – more so than I had at first contemplated. I have also found a welcome for a critical stance from many of those whom I have consulted. Those who have studied Winnicott in depth do not idolize him in the way many of us who have casually quoted him sometimes appear to do. That has been both a relief for the writer and an incentive to do him justice.
There were fewer resources than I had at my disposal for my [Page viii]earlier text on Freud. The books by Davis and Wallbridge (1981) and by Phillips (1988) provided clear pathways into the many ideas that Winnicott had generated. Here and there were other texts, which threw light upon his life, and which examined his theory and practice from different perspectives. I had at my disposal more of his papers in published form than I suspect Phillips had, even though Davis and Wallbridge would have had access to the same material in original documents and papers. I have also had the opportunity of meeting people who knew Winnicott personally, or who have devoted more time to the study of his work than I could ever have done in the relatively short time involved in writing this book. Such interviews gave me a taste of what it must be like to write a biography, especially the delight I experienced in talking with those who have valued Winnicott in person, or who so obviously enjoy their contact with his thinking. While hoping that one day there may be a more comprehensive and critical biography than has yet appeared, I had in my own less extensive researches a sense of what fascinating material and memories await such fashioning.
The limited nature of my knowledge before I embarked upon my own writing here has meant that I have appreciated, even more than I did in the preparation of my other books, generous sharing of information and ideas, advice on sources and refinement of my sometimes inadequate comprehension. This has come from a number of people, some of whom I have met for the first time. I am grateful that this project gave me the opportunity to do so. My particular thanks go to Professor John Davis, who rightly cherishes not only both the Winnicotts but also his late wife's superb contribution to the editing and explanations of Winnicott's papers; to Professor Windy Dryden who gave me the opening for this subject, and whose editing of the text has been gentler than I have experienced before, leading me to hope that my grammar and sentence construction improve with age; to Nina Farhi and Louise Exeter – respectively director and general secretary of the Squiggle Foundation – for all manner of help from start to finish; to Dr Isobel Hunter-Brown and to the librarian of the Institute of Psycho-Analysis for searching out and supplying papers and chapters critical of and influenced by Winnicott; to Dr Peter Lomas for reading the text from another perspective and ensuring that I recognized both strengths and shortcomings in Winnicott's writing; to Dr Lynne Murray and Sheelah Seeley – director and researcher respectively at the Winnicott Research Unit in Cambridge – for explaining so fully their studies of as well as their work with mothers and babies, and for generously allowing me to draw upon [Page ix]their published and unpublished papers; and at the end of the alphabet, but in fact always there from A through to Z, my wife Moira Walker, whose judgement I always value, and whose love provides the best facilitating environment of all.[Page x]
Select Bibliography of Winnicott's Works[Page 146]
The starting point for an initial study of Winnicott must be his most famous book, The Child, the Family and the Outside World (Penguin Books, first published in 1964), much of it the text of broadcast talks. It has been the best-selling of all his works, and is still the most accessible in addressing a non-psychoanalytic audience/readership.
It includes most of the chapters previously published in two separate volumes by Tavistock Publications in 1957: The Child and the Family: First Relationships and The Child and the Outside World: Studies in Developing Relationships. The second part in the second volume on children in wartime (‘Children Under Stress’) was omitted from The Child, the Family and the Outside World, but is now available with two other missing chapters, in the volume Deprivation and Delinquency, with another chapter, also not reprinted in the 1964 volume, on ‘Aggression’. It is replaced in 1964 by a chapter titled ‘Roots of Aggression’, while the two chapters are side by side in Deprivation and Delinquency. Two further omitted chapters from The Child and the Outside World appear in Society and the Growing Child. Only ‘Two Adopted Children’ and ‘The Impulse to Steal’ from the original 1957 set have not appeared elsewhere.
The following were published or prepared for publication during his lifetime:1931) Clinical Notes on Disorders of Childhood. London: Heinemann.(1958;(second edn1975) Collected Papers: Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis. London: Hogarth Press.1965a) The Family and Individual Development. London: Tavistock Publications.(1965b) The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development. London: Hogarth Press.(1971a) Playing and Reality. London: Routledge.(1971b) Therapeutic Consultations in Child Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.(
[Page 147]Of these, Playing and Reality is the most immediately relevant to the general reader, and the most reasonably priced. It contains the ‘Transitional Objects’ and ‘Adolescence’ papers, making it especially useful. Therapeutic Consultations is only available at present in hardback, unfortunately since it contains many fascinating case histories, most of which include use of the squiggle game. It provides the best insights into Winnicott's work with children of different ages. Like Playing and Reality and The Family and Individual Development, both soft-cover books, Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis and The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, consist of papers read and published at different times, many of which are referred to in my own text. Clinical Notes on Disorders of Childhood is a book mainly on paediatrics. Two of its most relevant papers appear in Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis.
The remaining books under Winnicott's name are drawn from his papers, and edited variously by Clare Winnicott, Madeleine Davis and Ray Shepherd, and Christopher Bollas, Ishak Ramzy and Masud Khan:1980) The Piggle: an Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment ofa Little Girl. London: Penguin Books.(1984) Deprivation and Delinquency. London: Tavistock/Routledge.(1986) Home is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst. London: Penguin Books.(1988a) Babies and Their Mothers. London: Free Association Books.(1988b) Human Nature. London: Free Association Books.(1989a) Holding and Interpretation: Fragment of an Analysis. London: Karnac Books.(1989b) Psycho-Analytic Explorations. London: Karnac Books.(
My own evaluation leads me to prefer the first set of books listed, published in Winnicott's lifetime, to these later texts. The Piggle provides a less expensive way of viewing Winnicott's child work than Therapeutic Consultations. Human Nature, a little scrappy though it is, can be said to summarize usefully many of Winnicott's central ideas. Home is Where We Start From and Babies and their Mothers are reasonably priced, although not the most important collections of various papers. Holding and Interpretation, although the only long example of his own record of adult work, is by and large somewhat laboured reading. These later books are of course of interest to the serious student of Winnicott, and they are more suited to specialists and those who wish to follow his application of [Page 148]his psychoanalytic ideas to specific care settings and various professional groupings. We have to remember that although Winnicott was not slow to publish his papers generally, the books edited after his death consist in the main of papers to which he did not give priority (although there are one or two reprints of papers found in the books previously published). I acknowledge as I mentioned in Chapter 1, Madeleine Davis's comment on Winnicott's plan to publish ‘a mixture of unpublished papers and papers from journals and anthologies’ (Davis and Wallbridge, 1981: 173). But his judgement to hold them back even for the time being might have been correct, since these later works are not the essential Winnicott.
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First published 1958.1980) The Piggle: an Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of a Little Girl. London: Penguin Books.(1984) Deprivation and Delinquency. London: Tavistock/Routledge.(1986) Home is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst. London: Penguin Books.(1988a) Babies and Their Mothers. London: Free Association Books.(1988b) Human Nature. London: Free Association Books.(1989a) Holding and Interpretation: Fragment of an Analysis. London: Karnac Books.(1989b) Psycho-Analytic Explorations. London: Karnac Books.([Page 154]