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Winnicott, D.W. (1958). The Capacity to be Alone. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 39:416-420.

(1958). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39:416-420

The Capacity to be Alone

D. W. Winnicott

SUMMARY

The capacity to be alone is a highly sophisticated phenomenon and has many contributory factors. It is closely related to emotional maturity.

The basis of the capacity to be alone is the experience of being alone in the presence of someone. In this way an infant with weak ego organization may be alone because of reliable ego-support.

The type of relationship that exists between an infant and the ego-supportive mother deserves

special study. Although other terms have been used, I suggest that ego-relatedness might be a good term for temporary use.

In a frame of ego-relatedness, id-relationships occur and strengthen rather than disrupt the immature ego.

Gradually, the ego-supportive environment is introjected and built into the individual's personality, so that there comes about a capacity actually to be alone. Even so, theoretically, there is always someone present, someone who is equated ultimately and unconsciously with the mother, the person who, in the early days and weeks, was temporarily identified with her infant, and for the time being was interested in nothing else but the care of her own infant.

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