email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
A Basic Theory of NeuropsychoanalysisA Cursing Brain?A Dream of Undying FameA Map of the MindAfter LacanAgainst AdaptationAgainst FreudAn Anatomy of AddictionAnalytic FreudAndré Green at the Squiggle FoundationAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnna FreudAnna Freud: A BiographyApproaching PsychoanalysisAttachment and PsychoanalysisBadiouBecoming a SubjectBefore ForgivingBerlin PsychoanalyticBetween Emotion and CognitionBeyond GenderBeyond SexualityBeyond the Pleasure PrincipleBiology of FreedomBoundaries and Boundary Violations in PsychoanalysisBuilding on BionCare of the PsycheCarl JungCassandra's DaughterCherishmentConfusion of TonguesContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Legacy of the Third ReichCrucial Choices, Crucial ChangesCulture and Conflict in Child and Adolescent Mental HealthDarwin's WormsDesert Islands and Other Texts (1953-1974)Dispatches from the Freud WarsDoes the Woman Exist?Doing Psychoanalysis in TehranDreaming and Other Involuntary MentationDreaming by the BookEnergy Psychology InteractiveEqualsErrant SelvesEthics and the Discovery of the UnconsciousEthics Case Book of the American Psychoanalytic AssociationFairbairn's Object Relations Theory in the Clinical SettingFed with Tears -- Poisoned with MilkFeminism and Its DiscontentsForms of Intersubjectivity in Infant Reasearch and Adult TreatmentFour Lessons of PsychoanalysisFratricide in the Holy LandFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreudFreud and the Question of PseudoscienceFreud As PhilosopherFreud at 150Freud's AnswerFreud's WizardFreud, the Reluctant PhilosopherFrom Classical to Contemporary PsychoanalysisFundamentals of Psychoanalytic TechniqueGenes on the CouchGoing SaneHans BellmerHappiness, Death, and the Remainder of LifeHate and Love in Psychoanalytical InstitutionsHatred and ForgivenessHealing the Soul in the Age of the BrainHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHidden MindsHistory of ShitHope and Dread in PsychoanalysisImagination and Its PathologiesImagine There's No WomanIn Freud's TracksIn SessionIn the Floyd ArchivesIntimaciesIntimate RevoltIrrationalityIs Oedipus Online?Jacques LacanJacques Lacan and the Freudian Practice of PsychoanalysisJung and the Making of Modern PsychologyJung Stripped BareKilling FreudLacanLacanLacanLacan and Contemporary FilmLacan at the SceneLacan For BeginnersLacan in AmericaLacan TodayLacan's Seminar on AnxietyLawLearning from Our MistakesLove's ExecutionerMad Men and MedusasMale Female EmailMelanie KleinMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMental SlaveryMind to MindMixing MindsMoral StealthMourning and ModernityMovies and the MindMurder in ByzantiumNew Studies of Old VillainsNocturnesNoir AnxietyOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn BeliefOn IncestOn Not Being Able to SleepOn the Freud WatchOn the Way HomeOpen MindedOpera's Second DeathOvercoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and BehaviorsPhenomology & Lacan on Schizophrenia, After the Decade of the BrainPhilosophical Counselling and the UnconsciousPractical Psychoanalysis for Therapists and PatientsPsychiatry, Psychoanalysis, And The New Biology Of MindPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysisPsychoanalysis and Narrative MedicinePsychoanalysis and NeurosciencePsychoanalysis and the Philosophy of SciencePsychoanalysis as Biological SciencePsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis at the MarginsPsychoanalysis in a New LightPsychoanalysis in FocusPsychology, Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Politics of Human RelationshipsPsychotherapy As PraxisPutnam CampQuestions for FreudRe-Inventing the SymptomReading Seminar XXReinventing the SoulRelational Theory and the Practice of PsychotherapyRelationalityRepressed SpacesRevolt, She SaidSecrets of the SoulSerious ShoppingSex on the CouchSexuationSigmund FreudSoul Murder RevisitedSpectral EvidenceSpirit, Mind, and BrainStrangers to OurselvesSubjective Experience and the Logic of the OtherSubjectivity and OthernessSubstance Abuse As SymptomSurrealist Painters and PoetsTaboo SubjectsTalk is Not EnoughThe Arabic FreudThe Art of the SubjectThe Brain and the Inner WorldThe Brain, the Mind and the SelfThe Cambridge Companion to LacanThe Challenge for Psychoanalysis and PsychotherapyThe Clinical LacanThe Colonization Of Psychic SpaceThe Condition of MadnessThe Couch and the TreeThe Cruelty of DepressionThe Dissociative Mind in PsychoanalysisThe Dreams of InterpretationThe Examined LifeThe Fall Of An IconThe Freud EncyclopediaThe Freud FilesThe Freud WarsThe Fright of Real TearsThe Future of PsychoanalysisThe Gift of TherapyThe Heart & Soul of ChangeThe Knotted SubjectThe Last Good FreudianThe Late Sigmund FreudThe Letters of Sigmund Freud and Otto RankThe Mind According to ShakespeareThe Mystery of PersonalityThe Mythological UnconsciousThe Neuropsychology of the UnconsciousThe New PsychoanalysisThe Power of FeelingsThe Psychoanalytic MovementThe Psychoanalytic MysticThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychoanalytic Study of the ChildThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Puppet and the DwarfThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Revolt of the PrimitiveThe Seminar of Moustafa SafouanThe Sense and Non-Sense of RevoltThe Shortest ShadowThe Social History of the UnconsciousThe Surface EffectThe Symmetry of GodThe Tragedy of the SelfThe Trainings of the PsychoanalystThe UnsayableThe World of PerversionTherapeutic ActionTherapy's DelusionsThis Incredible Need to BelieveThoughts Without A ThinkerTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTrauma and Human ExistenceTraumatizing TheoryUmbr(a)Unconscious knowing and other essays in psycho-philosophical analysisUnderstanding Dissidence and Controversy in the History of PsychoanalysisUnderstanding PsychoanalysisUnfree AssociationsWalking HeadsWay Beyond FreudWhat Does a Woman Want?What Freud Really MeantWhen the Body SpeaksWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Whose Freud?Why Psychoanalysis?Wilhelm ReichWinnicottWinnicott On the ChildWisdom Won from IllnessWittgenstein on Freud and FrazerWittgenstein Reads FreudWorld, Affectivity, TraumaZizek

Related Topics
WinnicottReview - Winnicott
Life and Work
by Robert Rodman
Perseus Publishing, 2003
Review by Petar Jevremovic
Sep 3rd 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 36)

Donald Winnicott is, undoubtedly, one of the most influential psychoanalysts of our post-Freudian epoch.  The originality of his thinking, his openmindness, his fresh and practically valid conceptions, makes him still very important among great number of modern analysts of various orientations.  

Robert Rodman himself, the author of this biography of Donald Winnincott, is a well known author. For example, thanks to him today we can read a very good and instructive selection (or we could say edition) of Winnicott's letters. Rodman is well informed in psychoanalytic matters in general -- he knows its theory, he knows its history, he can think and feel its practice, but of course, he is at his best when Winnicott's work is in the question.  His style is well balanced, coherent, and easy to follow.  The book is logically composed, eloquent, and well documented.

Rodman's book on Winnicott is important.  It is not an easy task to write the autobiography of one of the greatest psychoanalysts of our time. There are various challenges, many potential impasses, many problems.  The matter is rather delicate. One must avoid being voyeuristic, sensationalistic, nihilistic, destructive or too much idealizing. Any biography (as narrative form) is dealing with the facts. We need the facts if we wand to write a biography. But facts are newer enough. There is always a need for a living personality. And offcoures, we must always have it in mind, Winnicott's personal history is an important part of the (official and unofficial) history of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Having all this in mind, we must conclude that Rodman's book could be important in two parallel ways. As a contribution to our understanding of one of the greatest psychoanalysts of modern time, and also as decent (and rather original) attempt to understand one of the most turbulent periods in history of the British Psychoanalytic Society.

Donald Woods Winnicott was born in 1896 in Plymouth, Devon, a stronghold of the noncomformist Weslyan tradition. His father, a successful  and much-admired merchant and mayor of his town, was knighted for civic work. Winnicott himself was the youngest of three children. He studied medicine, and in 1923 he become physician in the Paddington Green Hospital, where he worked as pediatrician.

Winnicott started his own analysis in 1923, when he was twenty-seven years old. He had become aware of Freud's theories while in medical school, but did not seek out analysis for himself until the year of his marriage.  He sought help for personal problems from Ernst Jones, the founder of Biritish psychoanalysis, and was given a list of analysts from which to chose, but he could not make a choice. He was then referred to James Strachey, himself recently back from Vienna.  A few years latter, Winnicott become one of the first candidates in the Bristish Society.  In 1935, Winnicott began six years of supervision with Melanie Klein. He wanted to be analyzed by her, but this would have made it impossible for him to do what she wished: to analyze her son under her supervision. Winnicott refused this proposal, but did become her son's analyst a few years later. He was not yet knowledgeable enough to have developed a point of view about the issues of the day, but eventually his own temperament and grown stock of observations drove him into a deep, lifelong absorption with basic questions of human psychology. He become one of psychological and philosophical thinkers, and was a clinician of extraordinary skill.

Winnicott's independence of mind can best be appreciated against the background of controversy that had been a part of the history of psychoanalysis from its beginnings and then took a particular turn in the British  Society in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The well­known schisms between the young Freud and his associates Carl Jung and Alfred Adler had marked the field. Other breaks with Wihlem Stekel, Wilhelm Reich, Otto Rank, and Sándor Ferenczi followed. An older Freud, now aficted with cancer of jaw, oversaw but kept a degree of distance from the conflict that arose between his daughter Anna and Melanie Klein. Their disagreements are central to an understanding of the history of child analysis, and to the individual development of Donald Winnicott.

There in no doubt that Rodman feels strong human affections for Winnicott. His book is not just a biography. It is a book of someone who cares.  His treatment of Winnicott is at the same time personally warm and (as much as it is possible) objective. Rodman is rather well informed in the various psychoanalytic matters. The book is rich in various details. Different schools and different concepts, as well as great many of the leading figures of the psychoanalytic tradition (just to mention Freud, Jones, Anna Freud, Melanie Klein, Lacan...), had found their place in Rodman's discourse.  His Winnicott is not (like Freud himself in the book of Ernst Jones) almost an absolute saint. Also, he is not (like Lacan in the work of Elizabeth Rudinesco) the worst sinner among the mortals. Winnicott's personal drama and his doctrinally contributions to the modern psychoanalysis are two poles of Rodman' discourse.  And there is a good balance between them...

One very interesting quality of Rodman's book lays in his attempt to situate Winnicott in much more wither context that it is usually done. In this book Winnicott is pictured not only as pediatrician, psychoanalyst and child psychologist. Rodman's Winnicott is sometimes poet, sometimes philosopher, or even theologian. His cultural ancestors were, according to Rodman, the English Romantic poets, who embraced the role of imagination in the construction of reality. This could be one of the reasons he was so unacceptable for predominantly empiricist spirit of the British Psychoanalysis. His well known concepts like transitional object, transitional phenomena, transitional space, true and false self, holding, could be located somewhere in between (developmental) psychology and highly speculative philosophy. He is thinking about human development, about theory and practice of psychoanalysis. Also he is writing about life and death, about love and destruction, about religion. At the same time, his thought is purely descriptive, almost phenomenological, and very much theoretically-constructive.

This book will be of interest for psychoanalysts, psychologists and for all others that are seriously concerned with psychoanalysis. It could be read as a testimony of somebody's (Winnicott's) personal individuation. It could be also read as a good introduction to some of the key concepts of the developmental psychoanalysis.



© 2003 Petar Jevremovic


Petar Jevremovic: Clinical psychologist and practicing psychotherapist, author of two books (Psychoanalysis and Ontology, Lacan and Psychoanalysis), translator of Aristotle and Maximus the Confessor, editor of the Serbian editions of selected works of Heintz Kohut, Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein, author of various texts that are concerned with psychoanalysis, philosophy, literature and theology. He lives in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.


Welcome to Metapsychology. We feature over 8200 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716