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Layland, W.R. (1996). D. W. Winnicott. A Biographical Portrait. : By Brett Kahr. London: Karnac Books. 1996. Pp. xxix + 189.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1269-1271.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1269-1271

D. W. Winnicott. A Biographical Portrait. : By Brett Kahr. London: Karnac Books. 1996. Pp. xxix + 189.

Review by:
W. Ralph Layland

I came to know Dr Winnicott, initially, through the eyes of my analyst, Dr Margaret Little, both during my analysis and afterwards, in conversation with her. She had been an analysand of Winnicott and was subsequently to write a personal record of her analysis with him (‘Winnicott working in areas where psychotic anxieties predominate: a personal record’, Free Associations, 1 (3): 9-42, 1985). My own experience of Dr Winnicott was as a supervisee during the last two years of his life. I had asked him to supervise my second training patient, knowing that he was not a well man, but curious to know more about him and to learn from him. What I was to discover later, when I reminisced with my peers, who were also being supervised by him during his final years, was that the Winnicott that I experienced was very different from the Winnicott experienced by anyone else.

In fact, everyone seems to have had their own Winnicott. This chameleon-like quality of his makes for difficulties in really knowing what sort of a person he was.

Brett Kahr describes his short book on Winnicott, on the title page, as a ‘Biographical Portrait’, suggesting a finished verbal picture. However, in the last paragraph of his preface, he writes ‘I remain only too aware that this book serves as a mere sketch, and it does not in any way constitute a comprehensive biography. I have, in fact, begun the groundwork for a more extensive project, and the current text represents a preliminary portion of my ongoing archival and biographical research on Winnicott’.

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