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Berman, E. (1996). Searching For Winnicott. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:158.
(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:158
Searching For Winnicott
Emanuel Berman, Ph.D.
A review of In Search of the Real: The Origins and Originality of D.W. Winnicott by Dodi Goldman. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1993. 243 pp., and In One's Bones: The Clinical Genius of Winnicott edited by Dodi Goldman. Northvale, NJ: Aronson, 1993. 306 pp.
SOME TIME AGO, I was asked who is the most influential theoretician in the psychoanalytic community of my country, Israel. It occurred to me that a simple way to find out would be to check the references in the case studies submitted by all graduates of the Israel Psychoanalytic Institute. I went over the case reports of the last dozen years; D.W. Winnicott was quoted much more than Freud or any other author.
I suspect this may be so in other countries as well. It is an intriguing picture, especially when we recall that Winnicott (1896–1971) was neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but a pediatrician; that for years he was considered a marginal person in British psychoanalysis, and only quite late in his career was he asked to join the faculty of the London Psychoanalytic Institute; and that, when finally nominated to be president of the British Psychoanalytic Society, he said he may not deserve that role, due to his limited knowledge of Freud's writings.
Ever since Winnicott's death, interest in his personality and thought appears to be continually increasing. His posthumous writings already outnumber the books published in his lifetime, and these more recent publications (which include letters, notes, and drafts, in addition to papers, lectures, and an incomplete book) often shed new light on major aspects of his ideas and practice.
For example, Winnicott's letters (Rodman, 1987) to Melanie Klein and to Anna Freud clarify his unique ideological position vis-à-vis these two warriors. His passionate emphasis during the "controversial discussions" was on truth and the fear of truth. He objected to "restricting our work to the study and application of psychoanalytic theory in the form in which it had crystallized out at any one point in its history" (King & Steiner, 1991p. 89). That statement, in the context of the early 1940s, was pro-Kleinian. Unavoidably, he later became a foe of the new Kleinian orthodoxy as well.
There are now several books discussing Winnicott's work. What is
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