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Morris, M.G. (1994). Psychotic Anxieties and Containment. A Personal Record of an Analysis with Winnicott: By Margaret I. Little, M.R.C. Psych. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1990. 129 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 63:562-567.
(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:562-567
Psychotic Anxieties and Containment. A Personal Record of an Analysis with Winnicott: By Margaret I. Little, M.R.C. Psych. Northvale, NJ/London: Jason Aronson Inc., 1990. 129 pp.
Review by: Muriel Gold Morris
Margaret Little, one of the most important contributors of the British school, has written honestly and without jargon a most revealing and often shocking account of her mental illness and treatment. After many years of trying with two failed therapies, she finally improved remarkably and triumphantly under the care of D. W. Winnicott, during and after which her career as an original thinker flourished. She describes with sincerity and candor, in some ways perhaps too much, the dreadful experiences of psychotic-level anxiety and behavior that occurred in her life and with her three therapists. She has documented them at no small risk, in my opinion, to her personal reputation and scientific legacy.
Little's objective reason for undertaking this project was to explicate and illustrate Winnicott's concept of "true self in action" (p. 119). She does this by wonderfully seasoning it throughout with his unique ideas and terminology, thus giving something of her personal knowledge of him to posterity. Utilizing herself and Winnicott as prototypes for addressing transference/countertransference issues, she transmits a powerful and concrete latent message. It culminates in the revelation that, whereas Winnicott started out in her mind as her mother, the relationship ultimately led to her also becoming, according to her, his mother (see p. 108 for a stunning vignette about countertransference that stands out in all its poetry). This is a matter of considerable pride for her, both personally and professionally.
Despite cautionary statements about how this information might be received because of the issues of judgment and privacy, Little does disclose many painful, embarrassing, and even shameful events. Some readers may legitimately be uncomfortable and may feel that she crosses over into masochistic exhibitionism.
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