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Jackson, J. (1996). An Experimental Investigation of Winnicott's Set Situation: A Study of South African White, Black and Institutionalized Infants Aged 7 to 9 Months Old. J. Child Psychother., 22(3):343-361.

(1996). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 22(3):343-361

An Experimental Investigation of Winnicott's Set Situation: A Study of South African White, Black and Institutionalized Infants Aged 7 to 9 Months Old

Judith Jackson

This paper describes an experimental investigation of Winnicott's set situation as described by him in 1941. Three groups of South African infants, 7 to 9 months old, selected from white, black and institutionalized samples were tested three times in the set situation to validate Winnicott's findings and explore new ways of extending the usefulness of the set situation. The study also attempts to explore phantasy in infancy. The results show no significant differences between the black and white infants in the standard presentation, validating Winnicott's observations across different ethnic groups. However, significant differences in the institutionalized group were found, revealing considerable deviations and disturbances. In the second testing, where frustration was introduced, there were, however, significant differences in response to frustration between the black and white infants. Individual examples reveal the uniqueness of the responses to the situation. The situation provides a semi-structured infant observation which can be used as a diagnostic thermometer by professionals in the field of mental health.

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