Books by D.W. Winnicott

THINKING ABOUT CHILDREN by D.W. Winnicott
NON-FICTION
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

Thirty-two mostly short, previously uncollected papers and talks by the pioneering British pediatrician and psychoanalyst, who died in 1971. Influenced by both Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, Winnicott is deeply interested in ``the whole field of infant and child development and of the distortions of development that are either psychogenic or else secondary to various kinds of physical disorder.'' A founder of the British object relations school of psychoanalysis, he deviated from Freud's emphasis on individual psychosexual development to focus on the ``infant-mother constellation.'' (There is little here on the influence of the father, or of siblings, on a child's development.) He urges understanding and tolerance for the full range of children's emotional needs, including the expression of aggressiveness and hatred. And in contrast to some of his psychoanalytical colleagues, Winnicott also strives to sympathize with (rather than merely blame) parents whose children are undergoing great emotional difficulties. For example, with a fine understanding that seems the product of his half-century of pediatric work, he notes in one of three pieces on autism that the ``parents of autistic children are puzzled, and lonely, and potentially loaded up with guilt feelings, and yet they have to go on caring for these children whatever the cause.'' Unfortunately, only about half of these essays should have been preserved in book form; many of the rest deal with the kind of technical, even esoteric, medical or psychological issues that will interest only a relatively few specialists. Others are dated (e.g., a book review from 1930), while still others have the overly chatty, somewhat run-on style of unedited talks. Ray Shepherd, Jennifer Johns, and Helen Taylor Robinson provide an informative and fluidly written, if somewhat cursory, introduction to Winnicott's thought. This collection by an unquestionably seminal thinker and practitioner should be selectively dipped into, rather than read straight through. Read full book review >