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Winnicott, D.W. (1962). The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:256-257.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:256-257

The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship—Contributions to Discussion

D. W. Winnicott

(xvi) D. W. WINNICOTT (Reply)

I find myself without any very specific and urgent things I feel and want to say. The important thing is that we have had this discussion and that I personally have learnt a great deal, particularly some of the things that Greenacre has said about the maturational nodes. And I feel there is very much to be got out of her approach to the subject of the objects of aggression.

I feel I am to some extent under the influence of remembering the way in which twenty-five years ago in psycho-analytical circles one constantly heard references to infancy which were not joined up with the feelings the analysts would have had in regard to their own children. We heard references to the infant as if there was nothing there except the experience of a breast-feed or a bottle-feed, and satisfaction, and so on. I think it was extraordinary how long this went on, this talking as if the mother giving satisfaction to the child then became (or her breast became) the object, the first object of the child, as if there was nothing else there. Whereas now I think we would refer to the whole parental care; the mother in doing her task, doing what she is doing in the ordinary way, enables the infant to develop a capacity for object-relationships, which is quite a different thing.

I would like just to take up the point of Lebovici, if I understand it right; he brought in the word 'empathy', and he gives me the opportunity to say that if I felt that what I was writing was only empathy, that I had a hunch about these things, I think he knows that I would not have written a paper on the subject.

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