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12 and HoldingA Guide to Asperger SyndromeA Lethal InheritanceA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Special EducationA Toss Of The DiceA Tribe ApartA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDA Walk in the Rain With a BrainABC of Eating DisordersADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeADHD Grown UpADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention StrategiesAdolescence and Body ImageAdolescent DepressionAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAll Alone in the UniverseAlpha GirlsAmericaAnother PlanetAntisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAsperger Syndrome and Your ChildAsperger Syndrome, Adolescence, and IdentityAsperger's and GirlsAssessment of Childhood DisordersAttention Deficit DisorderAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderAutism - The Eighth Colour of the RainbowAutism and MeAutism's False ProphetsAutistic Spectrum DisordersBad GirlBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Before I DieBetween Two WorldsBeyond AppearanceBig Mouth & Ugly GirlBipolar ChildrenBipolar Disorder in Childhood and Early AdolescenceBipolar DisordersBipolar KidsBlackwell Handbook of Childhood Cognitive DevelopmentBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBody Image, Eating Disorders, and Obesity in YouthBoy AloneBrain-Based Therapy with Children and AdolescentsBreaking PointBreathing UnderwaterBringing Up ParentsBullying and TeasingBullying PreventionBut I Love HimCan't Eat, Won't EatCaring for a Child with AutismCatalystChild and Adolescent PsychiatryChild and Adolescent Psychological DisordersChild and Adolescent PsychopathologyChild NeuropsychologyChild Well-BeingChildren and SexualityChildren Changed by TraumaChildren with Emerald EyesChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChildren’s Dreaming and the Development of Consciousness City of OneCommunication Issues In Autism And Asperger SyndromeConcepts of NormalityConcise Guide to Child 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FieldsMind to MindMommy I'm Still in HereMore Than a LabelMy Flesh and BloodMyths of ChildhoodNew Hope for Children and Teens with Bipolar DisorderNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNo Child Left DifferentNo Two AlikeNon-Drug Treatments for ADHDNot Much Just Chillin'NurtureShockOdd Girl OutOdd Girl Speaks OutOne Hot SecondOne in ThirteenOphelia SpeaksOphelia's MomOur Journey Through High Functioning Autism and Asperger SyndromeOut of the WoodsOvercoming ADHDOvercoming School AnxietyParenting a Child Who Has Intense EmotionsParenting Children With ADHDParenting Your Out-Of-Control TeenagerPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPediatric PsychopharmacologyPeople with HyperactivityPhobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and AdolescentsPINSPlease Don't Label My ChildPraising Boys WellPraising Girls WellProblem Child or Quirky Kid?Problem GirlsPsychotherapy for Children and AdolescentsPsychotherapy with Children and AdolescentsPurgeRaising a Moody ChildRaising BlazeRaising Generation RxRaising Resilient ChildrenReady or Not, Here Life ComesReclaiming Our ChildrenRedressing the EmperorReducing Adolescent RiskRemembering Our ChildhoodResilience in ChildrenRethinking ADHDReweaving the Autistic TapestryRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRitalin NationRunning on RitalinRunning with ScissorsRutter's Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySeeing EzraSex and the American TeenagerSex, Therapy, and KidsSexting and Young PeopleSexual Teens, Sexual MediaShort Term 12Should I Medicate My Child?SmashedSnapshots of AutismSongs Without WordsSophie Spikey Has a Very Big ProblemSpeakStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStick FigureStraight Talk about Psychiatric Medications for KidsStraight Talk about Psychological Testing for KidsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStrange SonStudent DepressionSuicidal Behavior in Children and AdolescentsSurvival Strategies for Parenting Children with Bipolar DisorderSurviving OpheliaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaming the Troublesome ChildTemple GrandinThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Bipolar ChildThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Boy Who Was Raised as a DogThe Buffalo TreeThe Bully Action GuideThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Burn JournalsThe Color of AbsenceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeThe Depressed ChildThe Developing MindThe Dragons of AutismThe Einstein SyndromeThe EpidemicThe Evolution of ChildhoodThe Explosive ChildThe Eyes of van GoghThe Fasting GirlThe Field of the DogsThe Flight of a DoveThe Hidden Gifts of the Introverted ChildThe Horse BoyThe Identity TrapThe Inner World of a Suicidal YouthThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Kindness of StrangersThe Last Normal ChildThe Little MonsterThe Medicated ChildThe Myth of LazinessThe New Gay TeenagerThe Nurture AssumptionThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Other ParentThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of AutismThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Ride TogetherThe Rise and Fall of the American TeenagerThe Science of ADHDThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Survival Guide for Kids With LD*The Unhappy ChildThen Again, Maybe I Won'tTherapy with ChildrenThings I Have to Tell YouThings Tom LikesThrough the Glass WallThumbsuckerTotally WiredTouching Spirit BearTrauma in the Lives of ChildrenTreating ADHD and Comorbid DisordersTreatment of Childhood DisordersTwistedUnder the Wolf, Under the DogUnhappy TeenagersUnstrange MindsWastedWe've Got IssuesWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWhat about the KidsWhat in the World Are Your Kids Doing Online?What Works for Whom?What Would Joey Do?What's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Nothing Matters AnymoreWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhose America?Why Don't Students Like SchoolWill's ChoiceWinnicott On the ChildWorried All the TimeYou Hear MeYoung Minds in Social WorldsYoung People and Mental HealthYour Child, Bully or Victim?
Perhaps no figure in the history of psychoanalysis
embodies as many contradictions as the Briton D.W. Winnicott (1896-1971). Although he worked as a psychoanalyst, he
was trained as a pediatrician; although he considered himself a follower of
Melanie Klein, his work resonates with that of Klein's archrival Anna Freud;
although in his professional life he was devoted to children and parents, in
his personal life he remained childless.
Many of the Winnicott's insights and observations
have been validated by empirical studies of child development. His conceptualizations of
"good-enough" parenting, of the role of transitional objects, and of
the "false self/true self" dichotomy that emerges in response to
developmental stressors, have become cornerstones of contemporary understanding
of child psychology.
Perhaps equally important to Winnicott's enduring
legacy has been his unique writing style, which managed to convey highly
sophisticated observations about human behavior without resorting to the
abstruse terminology of psychoanalysis.
Winnicott's writing style stands in particular contrast to the dense and
sometimes impenetrable prose of some of his contemporaries, such as Klein and
Fairbairn. Among analysts, perhaps only
Sigmund Freud himself is better known for his incisive prose.
A prolific writer and speaker, Winnicott lectured to
professional and lay audiences throughout Great Britain and North America. Among his better-known works was a series of
lectures broadcast on the BBC radio network in the 1940's and 50's. This series, as well as speeches from other
venues, have now been collected and re-published in Winnicott on the Child, the
latest in a series of volumes that introduces Winnicott's ideas to a larger
Winnicott on the Child is divided into subsections
based on the origin of each essays, but the subject matter remains consistent
throughout the book: namely, the intricate, intimate emotional tête-à-tête
between mother and child, which propels forward the child's emotional,
behavioral, and cognitive development.
The overarching theme of the book is that when it comes to raising
children, mothers really do know best.
Winnicott urges the parents in his audiences to ignore the steady stream
of advice they receive from well-meaning friends, relatives, teachers, and even
clinicians, and to do what they think is best for the child's welfare and
development. He writes:
It is astonishing how, when one listens over again
to the descriptions mothers give of the management of a child in the home, in
the end one comes down to feeling that one cannot tell these parents what to
do; one can only se that one might have done the same, or one might have done
worse in the circumstances. (p. 96)
The author exhorts mothers to trust their own
instincts to guide them to the right answers in caring for their children. At the same time, Winnicott cautions that a
child's growth and development will inevitably spawn powerful negative emotions
in both parents and children: irritation, insecurity, jealousy, even hatred. In articulating this observation, the
analyst validates the powerful feelings aroused by child care, and perhaps
seeks to expiate the guilt that parents experience when overwhelmed by
hostility or resentment toward their own offspring.
The book includes three introductory essays by the
eminent contemporary developmentalists T. Berry Brazelton, Benjamin Spock, and
Stanley Greenspan, each of whom describes Winnicott's profound influence on
their own thought and work. One wishes
that their commentaries were more extensive, especially in describing the
process by which Winnicott's rather gentle approach to child development came
to be accepted by clinicians, theoreticians, and the public.
Winnicott on the Child appears to be aimed
squarely at parents, teachers, and educators seeking a sampling of
psychoanalytic theory from one of its most accessible and humanistic
authorities. Readers seeking more
technical or in-depth descriptions of Winnicott's ideas will likely be
entertained by the essays, but not fully satisfied with the depth of
presentation. This book is highly
recommended for those readers in the former category, and strongly recommended
for professionals who seek a more comprehensive picture of the writings and
speeches of this seminal thinker in the history of child psychology.
© 2003 Michael Brodsky
Michael Brodsky is a psychiatrist in training
in Los Angeles, California, and an avid reader.