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Edwards, J. (2013). Winnicott’s children: independent psychoanalytic approaches with children and adolescents. J. Child Psychother., 39(3):370-372.

(2013). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 39(3):370-372

Winnicott’s children: independent psychoanalytic approaches with children and adolescents

Judith Edwards

This is an excellent book and also a timely one – or one might also say ‘about time’. Its title (taken from Lanyado’s paper of the same name in the Winnicott Centenary edition of this journal) has a double ring. Winnicott himself had no children; the children he treated in such an inspirational way are the forerunners of the children that Independent clinicians, also his children as it were, treat now. He founded no training school and maybe at least a part of the reason for this was that he did not wish to have ‘followers’ and to be didactic. He thought we should all find our own way, in decent-enough clinical practice, without being too burdened by ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. He just wanted to communicate his own ideas to people and let them take them on and run with them as they wished. In this sense, he certainly comes across as being relatively non-narcissistic as far as that can be said of any of us. As he says in ‘Primitive emotional development’:

I shall not first give an historical survey and show the development of my ideas from the theories of others, because my mind does not work that way. What happens is I gather this and that, here and there, settle down to clinical experience, form my own theories and then, last of all, interest myself in looking to see where I stole what. Perhaps this is as good a method as any.

(Winnicott, 1945: 145)

Indeed. There is a playfulness here and it reflects his view of the infant who ‘gathers this and that, here and there’. He remained firm in the view that any individual’s lived experience must form the basis for creating and maintaining (as far as is ever possible) a coherence for oneself and a sense of personal integrity. As a pluralist myself I have always been drawn to his approaches alongside others and above all have found them to be extremely workable, useful and exciting .The idea of being alive to the moment in the Winnicottian sense is to be as Ogden (2001: 235) said, ‘forever in the process of making things of one’s own, whether they be thoughts, feelings, bodily movements, perceptions, conversations or analytic papers’. This is what drew me to Being Alive as a title for a collection of papers published in 2002 (Edwards, 2002).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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