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Bailey, T. (2016). Donald W. Winnicott: a new approach. J. Child Psychother., 42(1):86-88.

(2016). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 42(1):86-88

Donald W. Winnicott: a new approach

Teresa Bailey

This book seems to be aimed at the French reader who wishes to understand the original concepts of Winnicott, who is described by Laura Dethiville as an innovator who came up with his own solutions when theory failed to help his clinical thinking. It is called ‘a new approach’ and I was unsure if this meant that the author was looking at Winnicott’s work in a different way or if she was referring to his theories as being a new way of approaching psychoanalytic thinking.

Dethiville aims to provide a detailed and rigorous reading of Winnicott’s work for those unfamiliar with it. She states in the Introduction that she wants to ‘update his intuitions in the light of present day discoveries’ but, disappointingly, she does not provide examples of what these discoveries are. She mentions in the Conclusion that ‘… the majority of Winnicott’s intuitions have been confirmed by the giant strides made in the understanding of the newborn baby’s world’ (p. 131) but she does not provide examples of this.

Dethiville explains that Winnicott’s writings were very popular in France in the 1970s but that they subsequently lost some of their power. She believes that this was partly due to the fact that some of his key concepts were oversimplified. Dethiville states, ‘In France, there is a deep misunderstanding of D.W. Winnicott. He is well known, but at the same time not completely understood’ (p. 1).

As I read this book, my strong impression was that this had been written as an introduction to Winnicott and to his work for readers whose first language is French.

[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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