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Winnicott, D.W. (1963). Dependence in Infant Care, in Child Care, and in the Psycho-Analytic Setting. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:339-344.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:339-344

Dependence in Infant Care, in Child Care, and in the Psycho-Analytic Setting

D. W. Winnicott

There is nothing new in the idea of dependence, either in the early life of the individual or in the transference which develops force as a psycho-analytic treatment gets under way. What I feel may need restating from time to time is the relationship between these two examples of dependence.

I need not quote from Freud. Dependence of the patient on the analyst has always been known and fully acknowledged, and for instance shows in the reluctance of an analyst to take on a new patient within a month or two of a long summer holiday. The analyst rightly fears that the patient's reaction to the break will involve deep changes that are not yet available for analysis. I will start with a development of this theme.

A young woman patient had to wait for a few months before I could start, and then I could see her only once a week; then I gave her daily sessions just when I was due to go abroad for a month. The reaction to the analysis was positive and developments were rapid, and I found this independent young woman becoming, in her dreams, extremely dependent. In one dream she had a tortoise, but its shell was soft so that the animal was unprotected and would therefore certainly suffer. So in the dream she killed the tortoise to save it the intolerable pain that was coming to it. This was herself and indicated a suicide tendency, and it was to cure this tendency that she had come for treatment.

The trouble was that she had not yet had time in her analysis to deal with reactions to my going away, and so she had this suicidal dream, and clinically she became physically ill, though in an obscure way.

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