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Winnicott, D.W. (1955). Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects of Regression Within the Psycho-Analytical Set-Up. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:16-26.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:16-26

Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects of Regression Within the Psycho-Analytical Set-Up

D. W. Winnicott


Attention is drawn to the subject of regression as it occurs in the psycho-analytic setting. Case reports of successful psychological treatments of adults and children show that techniques that allow of regression are increasingly being used. It is the psycho-analyst, familiar with the technique required in treatment of psycho-neurosis, who can best understand regression and the theoretical implication of the patient's expectations that belong to the need to regress.

Regression can be of any degree, localized and momentary, or total and involving a patient's whole life over a phase. The less severe regressions provide fruitful material for research.

Emerging from such study comes a fresh understanding of the 'true self' and 'false self', and of the 'observing ego', and of the ego-organization which enables regression to be a healing mechanism, one that remains potential unless there be provided a new and reliable environmental adaptation which can be used by the patient in correction of the original adaptive failure.

Here the therapeutic work in analysis links up with that done by child care, by friendship, by enjoyment of poetry, and cultural pursuits generally. But psycho-analysis can allow and use the hate and anger belonging to the original failure, important effects which are liable to destroy the value of therapeusis brought about by non-analytic methods.

On recovery from regression the patient, with the self now more fully surrendered to the ego, needs ordinary analysis as designed for the management of the depressive position and of the Oedipus complex in interpersonal relationships.

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