The originality of Winnicott's thought and his originality as a person as inseparable. This book explores the way in which a search for an experiencing that feels real is evident in both Winnicott's life and work. He believes deeply that individuals possess a unique, innate authenticity. One feels most alive and free when in touch with this core sense of real self. The notion of the real is about being alive, creative, spontaneous and playful; cherishing one's uniqueness; accepting one's insignificance; tolerating one's destructive impulses; living with one's own insanity; feeling integrated, while retaining the capacity for unintegration; being receptive and open and knowing how to make use of the world without needing to react to it; finding and contributing to the inherited cultural tradition; tolerating one's essential isolation without fleeing to false relationships or retreating into deleterious insulation. Winnicott's work with patients focused on the experience of what is real in living. He observed that many of his more disturbed patients suffered from a sense of futility.
He aimed to facilitate the creation of an inner space in which the patient could learn to play so that life would begin to feel real. For him, this modest yet substantial goal raised questions about the singualr role of interpretation as a curative factor. His psychotherapy was not about making clever or apt interpretations. It was essentially a complex derivative of mother's face, affording the opportunity to experience onself as alive, real, able to relate to objects as oneself, and to have a self into which to retreat for relaxation. Winnicott's theory mirrors the pattern of his own subjectivity and speaks to his own condition. This is not to say that the truth of Winnicott's ideas cannot be evaluated on their own merits. The argument here is that the objective face of theory is not its only face. The method employed is to demonstrate what that theory has to do with Winnicott. Chapter one demonstrates how the originality of Winnicott's thought and his originality as a person are inseparable.
His ideas about playing, primary creativity, devoted mothering, withdrawal, spontaneous gestures, communicating and not communicating, and transitional phenomena can all be linked to aspects of his character. Winnicott's narcissism, his desire to playfully transform classic concepts, the pride he took in his inventiveness, his reticence towards closure and dogma and need to maintain ambiguity and fluidity all impacted on the content of his theory. Chapter two demonstrates the association between Winnicott's theory and his biography. Nevertheless, this is not a search for motivations behind his ideas. His purpose is to demonstrate the centrality of themes that are present in both his upbringing and his work. Chapter three demonstrates how Winnicott sustained a counterpoint between pediatrics and psychoanalysis. But it was the clinical data obtained through analysis to which he turned when he constructed his theory of early childhood experiences. The analytic material upon which he relied included his own two analyses with James Strachey and Joan Riviere.
Much of his later theorising can be understood as an attempt to fill the gaps in his analyses, to continue his efforts at self-cure. Chapter four focuses on Winnicott's dialogue with his non-psycholoanalytical intellectual precursors. He was influenced by those whose writings resonated with his own aesthetic sensibilities. Chapter five shows how Winnicott's radical development theory was constructed. It demonstrates what aspects of Freudian thought Winnicott internalised and how he made Freud's theory real for himself. Freud was the theoretical luminary around whom Winnicott orbited and the founding father against whom he struggled to authentically differentiate himself. (part contents).
Part 1 Introduction: Why Study Winnicott Now?; The Notion of the Real; A Word on Method; Winnicott's Way; Home is Where he Starts from; Pediatrics and Psychoanalysis; The Origins of Winnicott's Originality; Winnicott - a Radical Developmentalist; Survival of the Real. Part 2 D.W. Winnicott's Presence. Part 2 Home is Where he Starts from. Part 4 Pediatrics and Psychoanalysis. Part 5 The Origins of Originality: The Mind of an Englishman; A Romantic at Heart; The Darwinian Legacy; The Area of Faith. Part 6 Making Freud Real: A Method of Investigation; The "Witch" Metaphychology; Instincts, Relations and the Self; Paths to Objective Love. Part 7 Epilogue - The Survival of the Real.