- Winnicott by Adam Phillips
Fontana, 180 pp, £4.95, November 1988, ISBN 0 00 686094 X
All his life Donald Winnicott took great pains to present himself as an orthodox Freudian. Yet few ‘Freudians’ have been more radical in their departures from orthodoxy. Winnicott’s central ideas about mothers and infants, about nurture and cure, about the authenticity of self, are evocative and powerful, but they are nonetheless heresy. Freud saw the triangle of Oedipal loves as a crucible for the development of personality; Winnicott focused on the earliest bonding of mother and child. Freud portrayed people driven by the contradictions of desire into frustrating and ambivalent attachments; Winnicott stressed that only in attachments can human beings find an authentic self. And Winnicott’s most important theoretical contributions, unlike Freud’s, are never described in terms of the differences between the sexes.