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Burland, J.A. (1989). Home is where We Start From. Essays by a Psychoanalyst: By D. W. Winnicott. Compiled and edited by Clare Winnicott, Ray Shepherd, and Madeleine Davis. New York/London: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1986. 287 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 58:283-285.
(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:283-285
Home is where We Start From. Essays by a Psychoanalyst: By D. W. Winnicott. Compiled and edited by Clare Winnicott, Ray Shepherd, and Madeleine Davis. New York/London: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1986. 287 pp.
Review by: J. Alexis Burland
This book contains twenty-three articles on a wide range of topics by D. W. Winnicott, twelve that have never been printed before and eleven that were printed in books and journals no longer readily available. As usual for a Winnicott collection, these papers are addressed to diverse audiences, many of them outside the psychoanalytic community, including the Oxford University Scientific Society, the Progressive League, the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, the Borstal Assistant Governor's Conference, and the doctors and nurses in St. Luke's Church; several are radio addresses to the general public. Winnicott is an "acquired taste," and the nature of the audiences he so often addresses and the distinctive, largely nontechnical language he employs only further limit his psychoanalytic audience. That is unfortunate, as there is much enlightenment in this slim volume and much to enjoy.
Many have complained that Winnicott himself never attempted to pull together his thinking about matters psychoanalytic into a coherent system or body of organized theory. Although this volume continues his practice of commenting mostly on specifics, several themes emerge as organizing concepts. First and foremost are the developmental concepts of the inherent maturational process and the importance of the facilitating environment in encouraging it. Very much in tune with the propositions of contemporary infant observational research, this view stresses the contribution of the infant him- or herself in the developmental process. Secondly, the theme is reiterated of the initial essential and necessary illusional experiences of the infant, and the inevitable process of disillusionment that has its onset in the first year of life but continues throughout life, and whose outcome is perhaps the central determinant of mental health.
More clearly than in other collections of his works, however, these papers speak for what Winnicott believes to be the meaningful contribution of Melanie Klein. To quote Winnicott: "… Mrs. Klein took up the destructiveness that is in human nature and started to make sense of it in psychoanalytic terms" (p. 80).
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