The Confusion of Tongues Between Adults and Children Essays

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Winnicott made unique contributions to the field of psychology in that his theories are primarily concerned with abandoning psychopathology in favor of the quality of emotional development of self, and how an individual’s subjective experiences in their early childhood relations contributes to their development (Phillips, 1995). Winnicott gives attention to the mother-child relationship and incorporates much of Klein’s ideas around the inner reality of the infant and its object relations (Mitchell & Black, 1995). Winnicott proposed that children go through certain stages of development that are facilitated, in one way or another, through their relationship with their mother and environment. Winnicott posited the first stage of…show more content…
For ideal development to occur during this time, the mother should be in what Winnicott called a state of primary maternal preoccupation. Phillips (1988) defines this as, “a state comparable to an illness and characterized by a preoccupation...of heightened sensitivity akin to a kind of primitive, somatic identification with the baby.” (p. 122). It is essentially a selflessness of subjective interest displayed by the mother who offers herself as a vehicle for the infant’s demands and desires. With regard to the infant in his or her earliest stages of life, this selflessness is the defining characteristic of the good-enough mother. Winnicott viewed this state as a sort of temporary madness that enables the mother to retract from her own subjectivity, and become a conduit for the development of the movements and vitalities of the infant (Phillps, 1988) As the infant develops, with the help of a facilitating environment provided by a good-enough mother, he or she gradually moves away from absolute dependence towards a state of relative dependence. In this phase, the child develops a growing awareness of his or her dependence on the mother, and acquires an ability to relate objects to his or her impulses. This is a stage that is characterized by adaption to the environment and is accompanied by a gradual failure of the adaption on the part of the mother. As Phillips (1988) states, from the infant’s perspective, the mother changes from “an
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