The lectures of the famous British child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst addressed to pediatricians, internists, obstetricians, nurses, and, of course, parents. For parents and expectant moms and dads – this book is immensely important because it relieves the unfounded anxiety and instills confidence. It describes and analyzes motherhood as it is, without horror and embellishment. For example, the feeling of total absorption in newborn, bordering on extinction of self, depression and irritation, fear of being “a bad mother”, the strange behavior of the child.
Professionals will be pleasantly surprised or, conversely, puzzled and a little shocked, but I’ll get food for thought.
Probably, Winnicott was also a kind man.
It is difficult to write the Foreword to the book, which is not like him, but maybe even harder to the one that is admired. I want to use some superlatives, and I think, I myself would this Preface did not believe. But what to do if the book of Winnicott is really an absolutely unique phenomenon in the psychological and psychoanalytic literature, and his figure is seen standing at the gates of modern non-classical analysis may be a kind of measure things.
I remember such a case: one American analyst first went to Russia, to hold a seminar. He never really imagined future audience and watching on the plane of his sketches, was horrified: “what if they didn’t read the Winnicott. What I then be able to tell?” (Note that of all Winnicott not only quote, but also seems to love – regardless of theoretical preferences, even lacanist.)
Let’s start with the fact that this book, originally addressed to the mothers of small children, paediatricians and nurses, in plain language, without the use of special terms, except those that were implemented by Winnicott. And his terms are words in everyday spoken English: the “ordinary devoted mother” or “good enough mother”, a “transitional object”, it is difficult to be translated into Russian language “holding” (we even decided to just use the transliteration “holding”. According to Winnicott, “the holding is all that a mother does and all that she herself is her suckling child.” There is a literal meaning of holding hands.) That is, read this book. Thus Winnicott describes the most difficult aspects of child development, not simplifying them.
I remember reading in his youth Dostoevsky, I thought, “what about how to read books?” And after Winnicott almost all descriptions of the parent-child relationship are too simplistic, primitive, not accurate enough. This does not apply to the presentation of the results of special studies – but they are read only by the professionals. In addition, psychoanalytic descriptions of the experiences of the child sometimes seem understandable from psychoanalytic same position, but it is unclear how some phenomenon is expressed directly in behavior that we can observe. And when reading of Winnicott, we can see how, for example, achieved the constness of the object (the author of this word is not used, it is very difficult) or the importance of the survival of the place attacked by the child; it is important that the mother’s breast is not destroyed from his aggression, does not become the other – that gives the child the experience that the expression of aggression does not entail fatal consequences.
In this book is very high “concentration of ideas per unit of text”, and the language of the author is extremely accurate. So it has proved so difficult to translate – lost shades of meaning and wanted to multiply comments around most of the phrases. And the fact that the book consists of separate articles, written in different years, and many of the ideas in them are repeated in different variations, from my point of view, is another advantage, not a disadvantage. Maybe this will allow us, the readers, really gradually to understand what Winnicott writes. And then we expect the most unexpected discoveries.
The author demonstrates how the knowledge gained in the process of psychoanalytic work with adult psychotics, help to better understand the experiences of very young children who do not yet have language in order to talk about them; conversely, the observation of infants provide a lot of information needed to treat patients with serious disorders. A very striking passage in the Chapter on communication of mother and child, where Winnicott less than a page of text sets out the main difference of modern psychoanalysis from classic – understandable to the layperson. He says that the only way to refer to the earliest experience is to relive it; therefore, the task of the patient is not easy to understand, and with a good enough analyst in the analytic setting, which is “supportive environment”, as if reliving the beginning of his life, in which all of this for various reasons did not suffice. (The idea of making up a deficiency in contrast to the idea of research and insight.) Say, Winnicott argued that gives the interpretation for two reasons: first, to show that he was not asleep, and secondly that the patient himself could be convinced: the analyst, too, would be offended. Without resorting to terminology, Winnicott introduces the idea of “reparenting” – a favorite topic of discussion in recent years. It’s hard to believe: you can really understand the most important thing about such a complicated subject, as modern psychoanalysis, after reading this thin book!
If books about parents and children, as well as publications on contemporary psychoanalysis in the Russian language still exist (for example, “Talking with parents” of Winnicott ), a description of the process of childbirth – Yes, even from the perspective of a born baby – you won’t find anywhere else! Pregnant women, hurry up! Honestly, you will avoid many mistakes and can become “good enough” mothers for their future children. (Strange thing, but the advice of the genius of Winnicott is wonderfully evocative of the tips uneducated wise grandmothers, which is less and less.)
“. I trusted – not because I’m perfect machine, but because I know what you need. I care about you, I want you to have what you need right now. You can be sure that I’m there whenever I’m needed. This is my love for you now when you’re so little and helpless,” the message reports a good enough mother to her child, conveys all his behavior – the way she holds him the beating of his heart, his scent, of milk and breathing. And this creates the basis for future confidence in the world, a creative attitude and mental health – in the broadest and highest sense of the word.