SimplíssimoWinnicott and the Future of Psychoanalysis

Winnicott and the Future of Psychoanalysis

Por Zeljko Loparic

R$ 33.60 - Livro digital, formato ( MB)


In May 2015, the 1st IWA Congress and the XX Winnicott International Colloquium was held in the city of São Paulo. Members of the International Winnicott Association (IWA) from different countries met to discuss the relationship between Winnicott’s thought and the future of psychoanalysis. This book contains most of the papers delivered on that occasion and reflects the diversity of approaches marking the event. In the following pages the reader will find multiple ways of thinking about the place of Winnicott’s theory and practice in the face of the future of psychoanalysis and the challenges – current and future – raised by our society. Loparic, Z. e Ribeiro, V. C (orgs.): Winnicott and the Future of Psychoanalysis. São Paulo: DWW editorial, 2017. An IWA e-book.
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  • ISBN: 9788562487460
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  • Páginas: 242
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In May 2015, the 1st IWA Congress and the XX Winnicott International Colloquium was held in the city of São Paulo. Members of the International Winnicott Association (IWA) from different countries met to discuss the relationship between Winnicott’s thought and the future of psychoanalysis. This book contains most of the papers delivered on that occasion and reflects the diversity of approaches marking the event. In the following pages the reader will find multiple ways of thinking about the place of Winnicott’s theory and practice in the face of the future of psychoanalysis and the challenges – current and future – raised by our society.
In a time of increasing medicalisation of human life and in which psychotherapeutic practice is submitted to the imperatives of efficiency and of adaptation to social and workplace environments, it is appropriate to ask about the future of psychoanalysis and its relationship to our own future. More specifically, an enquiry is merited on the place of Winnicottian psychoanalysis within the context of contemporary society and its crises, and that of the history of psychoanalysis. Questions of this nature formed a focal point for the authors of this collection of 15 papers. The reader will find that the several ways of relating Winnicott to the future of psychoanalysis reflect the plurality of approaches of the various research groups of the International Winnicott Association. They also reflect the different discussion horizons on the ways in which Winnicottian psychoanalysis can respond to contemporary and future challenges, both
in clinical practice and outside of it.
In the papers included in this volume, the reader will encounter questions about the place of Winnicott’s psychoanalysis in a time (1) of increasing use of social media, which often replace real life with virtual life; (2) in which the post-modern world crushes
spaces for playing and for a healthy tension between illusion and reality; (3) in which the
immediacy and accessibility of digital relationships foster a decline in intimacy while

emptying and objectifying personal relationships; (4) in which relationships are redefined
by cyberspace, where people are no more than numbers or resources feeding on the rule
of success in the various aspects of life; and (5) of increasing use of chemical therapies for
the treatment of psychological suffering. Our current age, which is so configured,
challenges Winnicottian psychoanalysis by presenting patterns and problems which did
not belong to Winnicott’s more immediate context, at least not to the current extent,
which is expected to continue in the future. According to the authors of this collection,
although Winnicott’s psychoanalysis dates from a recent period, it can prove fruitful for
thinking about (1) varying family configurations; (2) significant social transformations
and their impact on human existence; (3) contemporary pathologies; and (4) the
medicalisation imperative which converts social and cultural issues into disorders.
Given that this collection concerns Winnicott and the future of psychoanalysis,
the reader will also find a reflection on the changes and additions which Winnicott
introduced into the legacy of that young science. In this way, the reader will be able to
follow the discussion about the radical changes that he made within psychoanalysis,
regarding both the way of conceiving the nature and aetiology of human illnesses and
psychoanalytic treatment procedures. This discussion refers to others involving thinking
about the relations between tradition and creativity, continuity and breakdowns,
orthodoxy and evolution.
These multiple debates about the future of society, the future of psychoanalysis,
and Winnicott’s place in that context are presented in this collection in two parts. The
first, “Philosophical and Hisorical Aspects of Winnicott’s Psychoanalysis”, contains
papers on Winnicott’s achievements and his revolution within psychoanalytic theory and
practice. The dialogue with philosophy and a reflection on the “schisms” which occurred
in the history of psychoanalysis appear in several contributions in this part of the book.
In the second part, “Winnicott’s Psychoanalysis Applied to Tackling Contemporary and
Future Challenges”, the reader will find papers discussing Winnicottian theory and
practice in the light of new configurations of human relationships, families, culture, and
illnesses. A picture of today’s society and of the challenges projected onto the future is

outlined in several points of view, always with an eye to the application of Winnicottian
psychoanalysis to our current and future contexts.
The first paper, “Achievements of Winnicott’s Revolution”, by Zeljko Loparic,
refers to a claim made by Winnicott in 1970 on the need for a revolution in
psychoanalysis,1 and defends the thesis that Winnicott’s psychoanalysis represented
revolutionary research on clinical practice and theory. Having dedicated over 20 years of
research to these matters together with other members of the Brazilian Society for
Winnicottian Psychoanalysis (SBPW), Loparic claims that in the light of Thomas Kuhn’s
philosophy, the following contributions of Winnicott resulted in a paradigm shift in
traditional psychoanalysis: (1) a theory of maturational processes, which culminated in a
view of human beings that highlighted not the dynamics of invested drives but of
interpersonal relations; (2) a theory of the interruption of those maturational processes
due to environmental failures and not to gaps in consciousness or threats of castration;
(3) a new approach to clinical practice; and (4) an original theory of cultural experience.
In Loparic’s view, the research program that Winnicott established significantly increased
the problem-solving capacity of psychoanalysis and changed its approach to both clinical
and non-clinical issues (such as social and cultural life).
In the second paper of this collection, titled “D. W. Winnicott Evolving and
Continuing”, Margaret Boyle Spelman invites us to reflect on Winnicott’s place in the
history of psychoanalysis, considering that he was not affiliated to any school of thought
and even avoided a following of his own. Based on an extensive study of the evolution of
Winnicottian psychoanalysis over three generations – during his lifetime and after his
death – the paper suggests that Winnicott’s thought impacted subsequent analytic
generations by facilitating both the expansion of his concepts and the growth of
independent thinking. Spelman analyses the relationship between the thinking
environment and the production of ideas, between originality and tradition. She points
out similarities between Winnicott and Arthur O. Lovejoy (in The History of Ideas), and
1 The author quotes this sentence by Winnicott: “I am asking for a kind of revolution in our work. Let us
re-examine what we do”. Cf.: Abram, J. Donald Winnicott Today. London: Routledge, 2013, p. 312.

how their views distance themselves from those of Harold Bloom and his theory on
influence anxiety.
Letícia Minhot’s “On the Shoulders of a Giant” assesses the future of
psychoanalysis in Kuhnian terms. Analysing the achievements of the Winnicottian
disciplinary matrix, she draws attention to the fact that its theoretical innovation entailed
a break with tradition, and was not a mere complementation of it. This change sparked
the emergence of a community of researchers – for example, the Winnicottian Center of
São Paulo, the Brazilian Society for Winnicottian Psychoanalysis – which continues its
work and communicates using the new language arising from it. The author presents the
main contributions of the Winnicottian disciplinary matrix and reflects on problems
afflicting today’s society that were invisible in Winnicott’s time but which can be solved
using the tools and achievements of that matrix.
In “Winnicott with Lacan: Towards a New Middle Group”, Deborah Anna
Luepnitz refers to the schism affecting the British Psychoanalytic Society and culminating
in its splitting into two groups: one loyal to Anna Freud and the other to Klein. This left
Winnicott in a third, independent contingent – the Middle Group. The author also
describes the differences between the British and the French psychoanalytic traditions,
represented by the allegedly incompatible works of Winnicott and Lacan. In her view, the
former introduced a “comic and optimistic” tradition into psychoanalysis, through his
good sense of humour, his emphasis on playing, and his belief in the possibility of
happiness within families and among humanity as a whole. The latter held a “tragic and
ironic” view of human nature by claiming that “There is no such a thing as a sexual
relationship” and that “Life does not want to be healed.” These two perspectives lead to
differing views on clinical treatment, but Luepnitz insists on the benefits of reading both
Winnicott and Lacan, and of working on the differences between self and subject,
devotion and desire.
In “The Objectification of Human Phenomena: Observations in the Light of
Winnicott and Heidegger”, Caroline Vasconcelos Ribeiro claims that Winnicottian
psychoanalysis does not pay tribute to the logic of the natural sciences or to the processes

of objectification of the real, which are what the German philosopher highlights as traits
of modernity. According to the author, Winnicott constructs other ways of reading initial
human phenomena, creating a semantics which is distant from the physicalistic language
used by Freud, so that his theory refuses to objectify human phenomena. In the light of a
dialogue between Heidegger and Winnicott, Ribeiro questions the increasing process of
medicalisation of life, and comments on the medicalisation imperatives of schoolchildren
diagnosed with ADHD, because they allegedly present deficits with regard to the “normal
rhythm” of learning.
In the sixth paper of this collection, “Anthropoteleological Views from
Winnicott’s Thought: a Winnicottian Contribution to Philosophy”, Loris Notturni states
that the appetite for Winnicott’s theories goes beyond the confines of the psychoanalytical
and paedopsychiatric clinic. For the author, Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes
not only renewed clinical approaches to human beings and their fundamental problems,
but also offered a teleological understanding of human nature and the tasks forming the
basis of life itself. The author argues that Winnicott’s clinical practice shed new light on
an old philosophical question on the unity of meaning, leading us beyond the obsolete
dichotomy of subject-object. Notturni grounds his view on the Winnicottian argument
that illusion is a condition for the possibility for future contact with external reality. As a
horizon for dialogue, the author uses Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology.
Laura Dethiville’s “The Modernity of Winnicott” also describes Winnicott’s
appeal for a need for a revolution in psychoanalytic work. She considers that this appeal
presents us with a reflection on an issue which is very modern: the redefinition of
relationships by cyberspace. In her analysis, she quotes a story she heard about a teenager
in Rome who forgot his mobile phone at school and fell victim to a prank by his
classmates, who sent a message to people in his contact list saying he was a homosexual.
Although the matter was later explained, via SMS, to all recipients of the previous
message, the effects the episode had on this boy’s life was so devastating that he left that
school. Dethiville raises the issue of how the widespread use of technology – which can
find, exhibit, and devastate nearly everything – does not allow us to switch off. She

reminds us of the importance Winnicott attributed to potential space, to the dynamics of
reality and fantasy, and questions whether it is possible to experience the world creatively
in a context where the other is virtualised.
The last paper of the first part of the book is Carlos Plastino’s “Psychoanalysis and
the 21st Century”. Pondering on the 20th Century, the author underscores the
groundbreaking nature of Freud’s discoveries for clinical practice, but claims that his
metapsychology severely limited the development of those discoveries as it was
encumbered by dualisms typical of modernity and by epistemic notions which he
borrowed from the natural sciences. The metapsychological domestication of clinical
discoveries favoured the penetration of Freud’s ideas into Western culture, but held him
prisoner to the prevailing beliefs of the 19th Century. Plastino refers to Nise da Silveira’s
statement that Freud opened the doors to the 20th Century but did not himself walk
through. The 21st Century, Plastino says, is submerged in a global crisis of the old modern
order, indicating a need for transformation. Plastino shows us how Winnicott’s
contributions to the theoretical and practical fields of psychoanalysis allow it to deal with
the challenges posed by the 21st Century and to construct an anthropological view based
on a knowledge of ourselves.
The second part of this collection begins with Elsa Oliveira Dias’s “Winnicott:
Resistance against the Gradual Emptying and Objectification of Personal Relations”. The
author considers Winnicott as the master of personal relationality, since in his view, the
formation of an individual begins with his or her first relationships. Dias reflects on how
Winnicottian theory can work as a field of resistance against (a) the progressive decline
of personal relationships due to the excessive use of electronic communication; (b) the
gradual disappearance of anything sacred in human life (in a personal and not a religious
sense); and (c) the increasing expansion of esoteric practices, the success of which is based
on a lack of hope regarding the healing powers of personal relationships. While
acknowledging the improvements provided by technology, Dias refers to the theory of
maturational processes as a tool for thinking about its excessive use and about the
significance of personal communications at a deep level. This theory opened a window

on the future, leaving a legacy capable of resisting the trivialisation and objectification of
personal relationships.
In her work called On Winnicott’s revolutionary paradigm: Clinical
psychoanalysis at its most formative edge, Ofra Eshel shows that the revolutionary
meaning of Winnicotts ́s most radical ideas has, in a certain way, been underestimated,
criticized or rejected, especially his clinical proposal, since it reconfigures the treatment
situation and goes beyond the space-time limits of traditional psychoanalysis. In her text,
the author examines the way Winnicott contributed to the extension of the range of the
psychoanalytical practice by re-dimensioning the concept of regression and associate it to
the treatment of the more disturbed patients. For Eshel, the Winnicottian reflections
about regression to dependence had a transformative importance for the patient, the
analyst and the clinical psychoanalysis.
Thanasis Hatzopoulos’s “Psychoanalysis is no Way of Life: A Commentary on the
Past and Future of Psychoanalysis” reminds us that Winnicott questioned whether
psychoanalysis and life identify with each other and whether health and life identify with
each other. Considering the clinical description by Margaret Little of her analysis with
Winnicott and Winnicott’s views stated in “Holding and Interpretation: Fragment of an
Analysis,” Hatzopoulos reflects on the relations between psychoanalysis and life. The
author presents Freud’s and Winnicott’s views on the relations between psychoanalytic
theory and a world view (Weltanschauung).
Vicenzo Bonaminio’s “Imaginative Elaboration” presents clinical material drawn
from an analysis which he conducted of Marcos, a severely inhibited and withdrawn
seven-year-old boy, and relates it to the Winnicottian concept of imaginative elaboration.
By observing the regression in this child’s behavior, the author assesses his conduct in the
previous session and the nature of his failure. This assessment is intertwined with a
discussion of the capacity to play and about how much the post-modern world suffocates
playing. In the author’s view, the Winnicottian concept of imaginative elaboration relates
to clinical practice and arises from the pulsating body of the analytical framework.
Bonaminio reflects on the relationship between imaginative elaboration and

countertransference and warns the reader that he is aware that his statements are
The fifth paper of the second part of the book is Alfredo Naffah Neto’s “The
Propagation of Social Media Networks and the Phenomenon of Daily Life Turned
Spectacle: In Defence of the Isolated Core of the Self.” Naffah Neto assesses the diffusion
of social networks which has changed daily life into a public spectacle and tended to
replace actual life with virtual life. Based on an analysis of the excessive exposure of daily
lives to mobile phones and social media, the author reflects on the isolated core of the self
and its psychic role in life. In the light of Winnicott, Naffah Neto takes issue with the
current spectacularisation of life and reminds us that a healthy functioning of personality
requires periods of non-communication and withdrawal into its internal world.
Conceição Aparecida Serralha’s “The Theory of Maturation and New Family
Settings” considers the challenge of thinking about the future of Winnicottian
psychoanalysis, based on a traditional parent and family configuration, at a time when
several other family patterns have emerged. Serralha points out that when studying 21st
century families, we must consider traditional family configurations, which, while still
prevailing, now coexist with other configurations: blended families, extended families,
homoparental families, single parents, etc. The author discusses the aspects that these new
configurations must maintain in order to produce a facilitating environment. She thus
points out elements of the theory of maturational processes which can contribute to an
understanding of these new families and can help them to facilitate the emotional
maturation of the individuals that belong to them.
The final paper of this book is Maria do Rosário Belo’s “Amidst Freud and
Winnicott: Dialogues with the Future”. The author situates Winnicott’s thought within
the history of psychoanalysis and adopts a perspective which allows for thinking about
psychoanalysis applied to new challenges of psychoanalytic clinical practice and to the
evolution of human societies. She thus briefly discusses the Freudian approach to classical
cases and warns us that currently clinical practice points towards something beyond the
sexual colouring exalted by Freud. Belo claims that Winnicott brings to psychoanalysis

the hope for a future regarding the treatment of current illnesses and indicates the
possibility of a clinical intervention beyond the Freudian “talking cure.”
With this collection to hand, the reader has an opportunity to make contact with
various ways of thinking about the relationship between Winnicott and the future of
psychoanalysis. Good reading!

Translation by Rogério Severo

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