Donald Winnicott and His Contribution to Object Relations Clinical Thinking and Understanding of the Mother-Child Matrix

Spring Trimester of Year 1 and Year 2 of the Certificate Programs in Object Relations Clinical theory and Technique and a part of the Parent-Child Development Program @ the ORI

This course can be taken also as a separate certificate course, with or without the Group Supervision class - 12.5 hrs of post-graduate training certificate

Course Calendar: March 28 - May 30, 2013 (no class on 4/25), 8:15 - 9:30 pm

Instructor: Ruth Danon, PhD

Location24 East 12th Street (between University and 5th Ave); Suite 4G; NYC, 10003 - or Virtual participation

Contact Dr. Danon by phone at: 917-312-7417 or 212-673-4894 or email: rd2@nyu.edu

"Psychotherapy takes place in the overlap of two areas of playing, that of the patient and that of the therapist. Psychotherapy has to do with two people playing together. The corollary of this is that where playing is not possible then the work done by the therapist is directed towards bringing the patient from a state of not being able to play into a state of being able to play." (Winnicott, 1971)

"There is no such thing as a baby ... if you set out to describe a baby, you will find you are describing a baby and someone.'' (Winnicott, 1947)

This is a ten week introduction to the theory, practice, and significance of the work of the British Object Relations theorist and practitioner, Donald W. Winnicott. We will first place Winnicott in context and then move through some of his major concepts. We will focus on the mother-child connection that was the basis of much of Winnicott’s groundbreaking work. This lens  will permit us to understand some of Winnicott's key concepts and their implications for work with children and adults. Theories of the 'true self' and the 'false self,' 'object survival' and 'the holding environment,' 'transitional space' and 'potential space,' 'mother-infant matrix' and 'mature dependence,' 'the capacity to be alone' and the 'the capacity for concern,' 'the capacity for play' and others - will be discussed.

In the first class we will look at the context within which Winnicott came to his own ideas. Each  week after that we will focus on one or two key concepts.  Because they way Winnicott expressed his ideas is central to understanding them, we will look carefully at his language to understand the paradoxes and metaphors so important to his conceptualization of the human developmental process. Classes will combine lecture, discussion (in which participants are expected to take initiative) and actual experience.

Course participants will be working mainly with primary material, such as Through Pediatrics to Psychoanalysis, Playing and Reality, and The Spontaneous Gesture, but supplementary materials by Ogden, Kavaler-Adler, and others will be also included in the course syllabus. In addition to the texts listed for each week, supplementary material by Klein, Ogden, Kavaler-Adler, and others may be referred to and/or assigned at the discretion of the instructor.

Course Outline and readings: 

Week I

Winnicott in Context (Winnicott in relation to Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, and British empiricism and

If possible, before class starts read the “Introduction” to Through Pediatrics to Psychoanalysis by Masud Khan (pp xi-xxxxvii)

 Week II

Winnicott on Anxiety and Aggression

“A Note on Normality and Anxiety” (Pediatrics)

“The Observation of Infants in a Set Situation” (Pediatrics)

“Aggression in Relation to Emotional Development” (Pediatrics)

“A Personal View of the Kleinian Contribution” (The Maturational Process in the Facilitating Environment) in course packet

Week III

Mother and Child Reunion (No Such Thing as a Baby)

The Good Enough Mother

“Mind and Its Relation to the Psyche-Soma” (Pediatrics)

“Primary Maternal Preoccupation” (Pediatrics)

Week IV

The Transitional Space and the Holding Environment

“Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena” (Pediatrics)

“The Fate of the Transitional Object” (Psychoanalytic Explorations) in course packet

Week V

True and False Self

Ego Distortions in Terms of True and False Self (Maturational Processes) (packet)

“Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects of Regression Within the Psychoanalytic Set-Up”

Week VI

The Manic Defense

“The Manic Defense” (Pediatrics)

It will be good to review Klein’s “Mourning and Its Relation to Manic-Depressive States” (in packet)


Transference and Counter transference

“Hate in the Counter transference” (Pediatrics)

“Clinical Varieties of Transference” (Pediatrics)

“The Use of an Object and Relating Through Identifications”, (Playing and Reality) (course packet)

Week IX

The Importance of Play

The Squiggle Game

The Capacity to Be Alone (The Maturational Processes) (course packet)

The Development of the Capacity for Concern” (The Maturational Processes) (course packet)

Week X

Playing and Improvisation in Psychoanalysis

“Playing: A Theoretical Statement” (Playing and Reality) (course packet)

“Creativity and Its Origins” (Playing and Reality) (course packet)


For more information, Dr. Ruth Danon can be reached by phone at 212-673-4894 or via email at rd2@nyu.edu .

Please feel free also to contact ORI administrator Dr. Inna Rozentsvit at 646-522-1056.

For registration form, click HERE


 24 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003


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Highlights of the ORI's 2011 Annual 20th Anniversary Conference on Dialectics of Mortality and Immortality: Time as a Persecutory vs. a Holding Object.

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Visit ORI's YouTube Channel, ObjectRelations2009, to view NEW mini-video series "Object Relations View"

            Intro to the Object Relations Thinking and Clinical Technique - with Dr. Kavaler-Adler (part 1).

          Projective Identification: Object Relations View (part 2 of the mini-video series)

           Time as an Object - Object Relations view  (part 3 of mini-video series)

        Self Sabotage - Object Relations view (part 4 of mini-video series)

        Fear of Success - Object Relations View (part 5 of mini-video series) 

        Mourning, Developmental vs. Pathological  (part 6)

         Bad Objects and Loyalty to Bad Objects - Object Relations View (part 7)

           Demon-lover Complex - Object Relations View (part 8)

     Thumbnail   Psychic Regret - Object Relations View (part 9)                                                                                         

      Klein-Winnicott Dialectic: Object Relations View. Part 10 of the educational series   Klein-Winnicott Dialectic - Object relations View (part 10)  

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Please note - NEW - Mail correspondence to: ORI Administrator, 75-15 187 Street, Fresh Meadows, NY, 11366-1725
New: Tel: 646.522.0387  Fax: 718.785.3270  Email: admin@ORINYC.org

Inquiries about psychotherapy and psychoanalysis training: DrKavalerAdler@gmail.com

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