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Winnicott, D.W. (1969). The Use of an Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:711-716.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:711-716

The Use of an Object

D. W. Winnicott

In this paper I propose to put forward for discussion the idea of the use of an object. The allied subject of relating to objects seems to me to have had our full attention. The idea of the use of an object has not, however, been so much examined, and it may not even have been specifically studied.

This work on the use of an object arises out of my clinical experience and is in the direct line of development that is peculiarly mine. I cannot assume, of course, that the way my ideas have developed has been followed by others, but I would like to point out that there has been a sequence, and the order that there may be in the sequence belongs to the evolution of my work.

My work on transitional objects and phenomena which followed on naturally after 'The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation' (Winnicott, 1941) is fairly well known. Obviously the idea of the use of an object is related to the capacity to play. I have recently given attention to the subject of creative playing (Winnicott, 1968a). This is near to my present subject. Then also there is a natural development from my point of view along the line of the concepts of the holding environment, this facilitating the individual's discovery of the self. Arising out of failure in this area of the facilitating environment can be seen the whole subject of the development of character disorders associated with the setting up of various kinds of false self, these representing failures of self-establishment and self-discovery.

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