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James, M. (1988). Human Nature by D.W. Winnicott. Published by Free Association Books: London 1988; 213 pp; £25.00 hardback; £8.95 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(2):263-266.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(2):263-266

Human Nature by D.W. Winnicott. Published by Free Association Books: London 1988; 213 pp; £25.00 hardback; £8.95 paperback.

Review by:
Martin James

This book bears all the marks of Winnicott. More than that, it goes some way to supply the place of the overall statement that would have crowned his work. In fact Winnicott's writings are self-consistent although many would suppose differently. This is because he hates to get ‘heavy’ and dreads being pretentious more than the risk of not being thought serious.

If we consider the table of contents they are still telegraphic, and perhaps only Wilfred Bion might, alternatively, have been free enough to have provided them, but the back-up in the text is just what they need. The strength of the book is in fact that. Much is spelled out here that is parenthesis in the formal papers. This is because the published papers are tied to time, to place, to personalities and to occasions; this book by contrast is an early draft of an authoritative statement for all time. The book is therefore helpful to anyone whether reading Winnicott for the first time or already steeped in his writings.

The title raises the same mixed balance between the playful and the serious in his style of writing. For the widely read the title itself has to allude to David Hume's Treatise on Human Nature (1743) but maybe that, as S.H. Foulkes used to say, ‘is just for sports’. However, it could be selfconsciously asserting an affinity.

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