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Winnicott, D.W. (1945). Primitive Emotional Development. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 26:137-143.

(1945). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 26:137-143

Primitive Emotional Development Language Translation

D. W. Winnicott

It will be clear at once from my title that I have chosen a very wide subject. All I can attempt to do is to make a preliminary personal statement, as if writing the introductory chapter to a book.

I shall not first give a historical survey and show the development of my ideas from the theories of others, because my mind does not work that way. What happens is that I gather this and that, here and there, settle down to clinical experience, form my own theories and then last of all interest myself in looking to see where I stole what. Perhaps this is as good a method as any.

About primitive emotional development there is a great deal that is not known or properly understood, at least by me, and it could well be argued that this discussion ought to be postponed 5 or 10 years. Against this there is the fact that misunderstandings constantly recur in the Society's scientific meetings, and perhaps we shall find we do know enough already to prevent some of these misunderstandings by a discussion of these primitive emotional states.

Primarily interested in the child patient, and the infant, I decided that I must study psychosis in analysis. I have had about a dozen psychotic adult patients, and half of these have been rather extensively analysed. This happened in the war, and I might say that I hardly noticed the blitz, being all the time engaged in analysis of patients who are notoriously and maddeningly oblivious of bombs, earthquakes and floods.

As a result of this work I have a great deal to communicate and to bring into alignment with current theories, and perhaps this paper may be taken as a beginning.

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