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Blandy, E. (2003). The Legacy of Winnicott, Essays on Infant and Child Mental Health Brett Kahr (ed.) London: Karnac, 2002. 160 pp. £18.99. J. Child Psychother., 29(3):439-441.
(2003). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 29(3):439-441
The Legacy of Winnicott, Essays on Infant and Child Mental Health Brett Kahr (ed.) London: Karnac, 2002. 160 pp. £18.99
Review by: Evanthe Blandy
Brett Kahr dedicates his book, The Legacy of Winnicott, Essays on Infant and Child Mental Health, to the memory of Donald Winnicott and to Dr Ved Varma, for their ‘pioneering contributions to the development of child psychology in Britain.’ This ‘festschrift’ is a colourful, lively and varied mix; both a celebration of Winnicott the person, and a tribute to his work.
Donald Winnicott, or ‘DW’ as he was known, began his professional life as a paediatrician. He is reputed to have seen 60 000 children, and mothers and babies over 40 years at the Paddington Green Children's Hospital and elsewhere, which gave him a unique breadth of vision about what constitutes normal ‘good enough parenting’ and the individuality of babies. He also completed a psychoanalytic training and saw children and adults in his private consulting rooms. Winnicott first came to prominence for a wider public when he was asked by the BBC to give some radio talks about child care and development during the 2nd World War. He eventually became President of the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. In the 1977 memorial address quoted in the book his widow, Clare Winnicott, speaks of Donald as ‘essentially a clinician to the end of his life’. His reputation, 26 years after his death, continues to grow.
In 1941, Winnicott published ‘The observation of infants in a set situation.’, a seminal paper referred to by several of the contributors. In this paper, Winnicott observes that there is one behaviour common to each of the babies who were brought to see him with their mothers. When the baby was presented with a shiny spatula on the doctor's table, he would hesitate. In that moment, he cannot be forced to pick it up. He would only reach out for it when he was ready, if at all.
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