Winnicott, by Adam Phillips

Winnicott by Adam Phillips (1988)

Analysis, like development, was about people taking their own time.
The development of a capacity to be surprised was the aim of analysis.
DW was intent on being understood rather than copied.
The anti-social act is a return to the point at which the environment failed the child.
What happened in the past can be known by being projected into the future as a fear.
What was registered unconsciously was an interruption, a blanking out, an absence in self-experience.
The way the mother holds the child in mind and body.
A child with a seriously depressed mother could feel infinitely dropped.
It was rather that children understood him.
The aim of any method was to produce new anomalies.
The symptom is a viable form of self cure.
It is not the symptom but the child’s use of symptoms that can be pathological.
With an ill child the symptoms aren’t doing their job.
The healthy child has a flexible repertoire of symptoms.
The details of a child’s life might be like beads waiting to be strung together.
The patient is always suffering from the self-knowledge he has to refuse himself. The analyst facilitates self-representation.
A tradition was only useful if it provided opportunities for innovation.
A change of language signals a change of belief.
Spontaneity comes out of early experiences of reliability.
The child needs to know the environment can withstand him.
Mouth love: the infant’s primitive, ruthless love.
How does a person grow from a state of primitive greed and absolute dependence on the mother to relative autonomy without too much loss of spontaneity, desire (without the false solution of rigid convictions or a strong leader)?
The infant’s attitude to food and use of appetite is a precursor of relationships with others and his own desire.
Winnicott is attentive to the kind of environment the child creates for himself, how he discovers and uses what he finds, as the essential indicator of emotional development.
Each interpretation is a glittering object designed to excite the patient’s greed.
The psyche (the imaginative elaboration of somatic parts, feelings and functions of physical aliveness) and the body have to find a shared language, to come to terms with each other, and this was the developmental process.
This co-ordination has three steps: integration, personalization, realization.
At the very beginning the infant is in a condition of primary unintegration. – unconnected feeling states without ego.
With one person (mother) to gather his bits together – the infant’s instinctual experience and repeated quiet experiences of body care (via mother) gradually build up a satisfactory personalization. There is a dawning sense of being a specific person whose particularity is rooted in his body.
Unintegration: trust in an environment where one can safely be in pieces without feelings of falling apart
Unintegration is a resource, disintegration is a terror.
A capacity for states of primary unintegration brought forward into later life is a developmental necessity.
We are poor indeed if we are only sane.
The risk is that we will impose a coherence on ourselves that can divorce us from our more primitive selves.
Developmental achievements are only achievements if they are reversible.
Fantasy is not a substitute for reality but the first method of finding it (the infant creates the breast out of her desire for it, the mother is an environment producing ‘sensitive adaptation’).

The infant can only tolerate, at first, being nourished by an object she appears to possess and control, so the mother fits in with her desire. Only this repeated experience gives her confidence in her desire as a source of possibility.
Analysis can be a setting that restores an environment for the first time.
The mother hates the infant (internalizing this feeling as masochism) for the child’s ruthless use of her in the service of her own development.
If the mother was depressed the mother uses the child to sustain something in herself.
Committed to growth, not the acquiring of convictions.
Playing is the process of finding through pleasure what interests you.
Language is always ventriloquism – speaking someone else’s words.
A secret can be found out, silence is invisible.
In the artist there is the urgent need to communicate and to hide. Not to be found.
The self is the player of hide and seek.
There were people who had experienced such severe failure of the early holding environment that they felt they had not started to exist. Their lives were characterized by a sense of futility born of compliance.
Before the mirror, the face of my mother.
If the infant is seen in a way that makes her feel she exists, she is free to keep on looking.
The child with an unresponsive mother – the mother whose face is frozen in a depressed mood – is forced to read the mood at the cost of her own feelings being recognized., This is a form of compliance, unable to get the mirror to notice and approve, the child is compelled to see only what the mother feels. And she has no way of knowing what, if anything, she has contributed to her mother’s mood.
Not to be seen by the mother is not to exist.
The false self has three functions: it attends within strict limitations to the mother, it hides and protects the True Self by complying with environmental demands, and it a caretaker, looking after the environment that has failed. It is a primitive form of self-sufficiency in the absence of nurture.
The True Self is a category for the idiosyncratic. The spontaneous gesture and personal idea.
Spontaneity: the cardinal virtue of the good life.
There is something pathological in the need to be believed.

 

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