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Knight, R. (2009). Attachment, Play, and Authenticity: A Winnicott Primer. By Steven Tuber. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2008, xiii + 237 pp., $35.95 paperback.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(3):755-760.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(3):755-760

Book Reviews: Winnicott

Attachment, Play, and Authenticity: A Winnicott Primer. By Steven Tuber. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson, 2008, xiii + 237 pp., $35.95 paperback.

Review by:
Rona Knight

As Steven Tuber acknowledges at the end of this book, Donald Winnicott is a “treasured internalized object” for him, and Attachment, Play, and Authenticity: A Winnicott Primer is a loving tribute to the man, not a critical examination of his work. The book derives from seminars he has taught to clinical psychology doctoral students at the City University of New York, and the reader is often put in the position of a student listening to a lecture. Encountering Tuber's enthusiastic adjectives and many exclamation points, I can easily imagine that Tuber must be an inspirational teacher, engaging students through his energy, enthusiasm, admiration and—most important—thorough knowledge of Winnicott's theory and technique.

The first chapter, which introduces the reader to the concepts and language of Winnicott, brims over with many of his famous quotes illustrating such concepts as the mother-infant dyad, the “good enough” mother, the importance of play, the true and false self, and the psychotherapeutic process. Each of the following twelve chapters reviews and discusses one to three of Winnicott's papers. The book is most clearly understood by reading the original papers alongside each chapter.

The first paper Tuber discusses is “Primitive Emotional Development(1945), essentially a paper describing Winnicott's thoughts about working with more primitive patients. In this paper Winnicott explained his understanding of their pathology and his treatment of them, which he based on his understanding of the infant's earliest thoughts and feelings in the mother-infant dyad. Winnicott positioned that dyad as the central organizer of personality formation and stressed the importance of the reciprocity of the mother-infant relationship for future healthy development. Tuber points out the revolutionary nature of this idea in 1945 and its foreshadowing of Winnicott's later contributions and of future infant research.

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