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But he came to think that this could not be sufficient. I have discussed some of the reasons for this in the previous section of this paper, but there are other reasons that, as we can now see, are more directly related to the nature of the motility impulse itself. For Winnicott, this suggested the possibility that the motility impulse itself includes an inclination toward separation and externality.

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In fact, however, there is not one paper, but four. There is the paper that was delivered to the New York Psychoanalytic Institute in which was preceded by a summary that Winnicott had sent to his commentators prior to his talk ; there is a slightly modified version of that paper, which Winnicott sent to the New York Psychoanalytic Institute some time shortly after his visit; there is the paper that Winnicott published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in a ; and there is the paper that Winnicott republished in Playing and Reality , which appeared in c.

The summary ended as follows:. The destructiveness plus the object's survival of the destruction places the object outside the area in which projective mental mechanisms operate, so that a world of shared reality is created which the subject can use and which can feed back into the subject. This is a stunning addition for two reasons. First, it was not offered as a clarification of what he had already said; there had been no mention of play at all in the summary.

Second, not only had the theme of play gone unmentioned in the summary of the paper, but it would also be hardly mentioned in the paper itself. In fact, it was not mentioned at all except in the introduction. In the body of the paper in both published versions , Winnicott would return explicitly to two of these ideas: transitional objects and the facilitating environment. So, of the four ideas referred to in the deleted paragraph, Winnicott comes back clearly enough to two of them in the body of the paper.

And yet at the same time, he seems continually to shroud in mystery the connection between these, closing the door just as he opens it. And second, what is the reason for his hesitation? We have been reminded that an essential feature of the transitional object is that it is both created and found. So at the stage of the transitional object, there is already aggression and survival.

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Is this something else merely a quantitative increase of the same sort of aggression that is already a feature of the transitional object? This language of repudiation was not new for Winnicott. There is typically first a hesitation to take the spatula and second a gradual possession of it. It is the third stage that is of relevance for us here. The baby first of all drops the spatula as if by mistake. If it is restored he is pleased, plays with it again, and drops it once more, but this time less by mistake.

On its being restored again, he drops it on purpose, and thoroughly enjoys aggressively getting rid of it, and is especially pleased when it makes a ringing sound on contact with the floor. From this we can see the beginning of a different account of the destruction leading to the acceptance of externality. So there is the beginning of a different account, but only the beginning. In these earlier papers, we have the idea of an object being repudiated or cast off and made external.

But what Winnicott had not yet appreciated—so he came to think—is the nature and degree of the aggression destruction that repudiation requires. From the beginning of his thinking about repudiation of the external world, Winnicott believed that repudiation involves aggression and the danger of retaliation. But it is not clear how Winnicott had thought of the individual's own destructive activity in relation to this repudiation.

By taking each infant through this vital stage in early development in a sensitive way the mother gives time for her infant to acquire all sorts of ways of dealing with the shock of recognizing the existence of a world that is outside his or her magical control. When there is good enough mothering and good enough parentage, the majority of infants … achieve health and a capacity to leave magical control and destruction aside.

I show a child's drawing … but if you had been there you would have known that it represented a climax of adventure in the trust situation of a therapeutic consultation at which the little girl broke away from heavily loaded clinical dependence on the mother … and for a few seconds … put her mother over there , by kicking her. Naturally she was scared and needed quickly to reestablish her mother as available, accessible and responsive without vindictiveness.

What is entailed in this change in Winnicott's thinking? Second, this destructive aggression that is part of relinquishment is not described as part of primitive love or appetite. Nor does this mean that the destructiveness he is describing here is not genetically connected with the primary impulse.

D. W. Winnicott 'Playing and Reality' - Review

We shall come back to this. But the aspect of destructiveness that is the subject of that paper is not well described immediately in terms of appetitive aggression.


The distinction between the aggression of ruthless love and the destruction of relinquishment is of rather a different sort: with respect to both kinds of destruction, the survival of the object when it does survive is a welcome surprise, but to exaggerate only slightly while in regard to the former, the surprise is that the object survived me , in the latter, it is that it survived without me. What is at issue here is not a frontal assault on the object; if it were, the word destruction would be needed precisely in reference to the baby's impulse to destroy. In health the infant is helped by being given by ordinary devoted Mum areas of experience of omnipotence while experimenting with excursions over the line into the wasteland of destroyed reality.

The wasteland turns out to have features in its own right, or survival value, etc. So while in the earlier story of destruction, the significance of the destructive impulse was that it failed, in this story it is more complicated. In one sense, it is of course the case that if the object survives, there is a failure of destruction. But insofar as the impulse is not primarily to destroy the object though there is that important aspect of aggression as well , but to release the object that is liable to destruction, the survival of the object does not mark a failure , but a relief : relief that the object, now released and liable not to survive, has in fact survived on its own.

To this we might now add a further question.

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If, as suggested, Winnicott's view of destruction did not replace his earlier ideas about aggression but supplemented them, what is the relationship between these forms of aggression? I believe that the answers to these questions are very much related. As to why Winnicott deleted the introductory paragraph, we can only speculate, of course. So it may be that, in the context of that collection, Winnicott regarded at least some of the references as unnecessary. Still, it is curious why there is no mention at all of the connection between the lines of thought that he had originally cited.

So I want to offer a different possibility. But where does this impulse come from? If so, is it a derivative of another drive, such as primary aggression? Or is the impulse to repudiate itself a primary drive? Should it perhaps be considered not a primitive impulse, but a development of the ego? That this was a reason for deleting the introductory paragraph can indeed only be speculation.

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He did believe that this destructive impulse was a primary drive—indeed, that it was, or was somehow part of, the primary drive, even as he tried to understand how this could be so. Winnicott tried to articulate the nature of this destructive drive. But why call this first drive a destructive drive? If it begins as a unity, it could not be merely destructive. In a different vein, Winnicott suggested that:. Does the object survive , that is, does it retain its character, or does it react?

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If the former, then there is no destruction, or not much. There is still confusion here. Winnicott, I believe, came to see that he was, in fact, trying to bring together these two lines of thought. He is coming closer to expressing the idea that the distinction between what he is allowing himself to call life and death instincts marks a distinction not only or especially between love and aggression, but also between kinds of aggression, each of which has its own relation to love.

I am suggesting that it is this idea that Winnicott is struggling to articulate. He does not say what idea in that paper he is referring to, but we find there this key passage on the origin of aggression:. If we look and try to see the start of aggression in an individual what we meet is the fact of infantile movement.

Donald Winnicott

This even starts before birth …. A part of the infant moves and by moving meets something …. In every infant there is this tendency to move and to get some kind of muscle pleasure in movement, and to gain from the experience of movement and meeting something …. Throughout the s and s the future of health services, the role of consultants and GPs many surgeries were run from front rooms in voluntary and Poor Law hospitals were debated among government and medics. The hated Poor Law was inefficient and doomed following universal suffrage. For an experiment in health care. Phillips is an indispensable guide to Winnicott.

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  8. However, early typed and written papers, with notes amended, can be read. His published papers are full of case notes, abbreviated, simplified, as he describes in Therapeutic Consultations in Child Psychiatry London: Karnac Books, edn. For his disagreement with Klein, see below. His first coronary was in early Rodman, Winnicott , Gardiner, Thirties , chapters 3, 5, and 6. Brett Kahr, D.

    Winnicott, Letter to John Bowlby, May 11, , ed. Winnicott London: Karnac Books, , 65— Gisela Bock and Pat Thane, eds. It demonstrates amply how wide the range is of Winnicott scholarship and facilitates post-Freudian Bion and Winnicott studies. Attachment Theory and Psychoanalysis. Peter Fonagy.