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Winnicott: Life and Work
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant and fascinating biography of the most important psychoanalyst since Freud and Jung.
This beautifully written and long-awaited biography is the first full-scale life of the great British psychoanalyst, a major figure both in psychiatry and as a principle influence on the leading child development experts of our time, including Brazelton, Spock, and Stanley Greenspan.
A pediatrician turned analyst, D. W. Winnicott rose to prominence in the stormy days when the followers of Anna Freud were battling those of Melanie Klein for the right to be called Freud's true intellectual heirs. This rich, witty, and insightful story probes the autobiographical sources of Winnicott's influential concepts, such as the "holding environment" so crucial to psychotherapy and the "transitional object" known to every parent as the "security blanket." Winnicott's astonishing career involves many of the great figures in psychoanalysis and psychology, not just Klein and Anna Freud but the whole eccentric Bloomsbury scene including the Stracheys, R. D. Laing, and the controversial Pakistani prince and analyst Masud Khan.
Readers of Oliver Sacks, Janet Malcolm, and Peter Gay, as well as anyone interested in the great explorers of human nature, will find this book passionately absorbing.
"As F. Robert Rodman's fine biography makes plain, these insights grew out of a very troubled early life, followed by a successful and reasonably happy adulthood, though marred by cardiac illness, conflict with other members of the psychoanalytic community, and a series of questionable ethical judgments. Rodman, a practicing analyst, has edited Winnicott's correspondence, and this biography began as a quasi-official work co-authored with a member of the Winnicott Trust. He had the cooperation of Winnicott's widow, Clare Britton, who died in 1984, as well as numerous friends and associates. On his co-author's death in 1991, Rodman assumed the task on his own. This seems fortunate, for Rodman, though deeply sympathetic to both the man and his ideas, is free to express strong criticisms of Winnicott's ethical lapses, seeing him as 'a person in conflict who expressed his genius, and also went awry, in manifold ways.' With this combination of empathy and freedom, Rodman presents as balanced and insightful a portrait of the genesis of Winnicott's ideas as we are likely to have." Martha C. Nussbaum, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)
"A comprehensive biography...Rodman provides rich details about the roots of modern psychoanalytic thought...thorough research and clear writing." New England Psychologist
Book News Annotation:
As a California psychoanalyst who edited a volume of Winnicott's letters, Rodman provides insights into the career and personal life of the eminent British psychoanalyst who contributed such concepts to the field as the "good enough mother" and "transitional object" (e.g. a security blanket). He includes a Winnicott chronology (1896-1971), list of his works, and photos of his family and Melanie Klein, a prime influence. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A biography of the most important psychoanalyst since Freud and Jung.
About the Author
F. Robert Rodman, M.D., a leading psychoanalyst, is the author of Not Dying ("A superbly intelligent, courageous testament"- San Francisco Examiner) and Keeping Hope Alive, as well as the editor of a much-admired volume of Winnicott's letters, The Spontaneous Gesture. He lives and practices in Beverly Hills, California.
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