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Marcus, E.R. (1994). Psychoanalytic Explorations: D. W. Winnicott: Edited by Claire Winnicott, Ray Shepard, and Madeleine Davis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1989, 602 pp., $42.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:268-271.
(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:268-271
Psychoanalytic Explorations: D. W. Winnicott: Edited by Claire Winnicott, Ray Shepard, and Madeleine Davis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1989, 602 pp., $42.50.
Review by: Eric R. Marcus, M.D.
Now, for the Winnicott fans among us comes this collection of previously unpublished papers, published but scattered reviews, talks, and most important, comments on already published papers. The sum total is to give us a view of the development of Winnicott's thought (p. xiii). It is a most interesting view.
His comments on the final draft of one of his more difficult and complex papers, "The Use of an Object and Relating through Identifications" (Winnicott, 1971b) illustrates Winnicott's thinking—its process and growth. The paper was presented in 1968 to the New York Psychoanalytic Society, and an early draft was published in 1969. Unfortunately, the earlier draft of this paper is not included with this collection.
Winnicott's thinking may seem strange, vague, and ambiguous to American psychoanalysts. We aren't necessarily used to thinking of what or in the way that Winnicott thought. This is because Winnicott often wrote about thinking—its processes and its special location within mental experience. As such, his was a study of developmental epistemology as part of a truly psychoanalytic general psychology. This is a tradition anchored in Freud and Hartmann whose time is now arriving as cognitive and neurosciences begin to catch up with psychoanalysts' unique understanding of symbolic representation. Winnicott may yet help put us on the positivist map!
Winnicott is difficult because of his ideas about epistemological processes and their mental location, which partly determines those processes. His transitional object paper, with two published drafts (1953, 1971), is his seminal work in this area, germinating his own evolving thinking and also inspiring a number of applications. This location business, more in keeping with a topographic model, may strike American psychoanalysts as simplistic or passé because we tend insidiously to lose this important concept to a boiled-down structuralism in which all is conflict and nothing else—no differing integrations, levels, or phenomenology.
This collection will show us that Winnicott did not mean to be vague or ambiguous. He was writing about the development and experience of a particular mixture of primary and secondary process, of reality and fantasy combination, of affects and things, as this process located itself in the inner experience and use of outer, real (actual) objects.
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