These essays were collected and published posthumously, by Winnicott's widow, Clare, and colleagues. British pediatrician, humanitarian, and ground-breaking psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott died in 1971, having made a nearly immeasurable contribution to the fields of psychoanalysis and child psychology. In this volume, as with his other writings, his ideas are deep, reverential and respectful, and often somewhat complex, and at the same time, his presentation is utterly simple and straightforward. The reader is fully engaged, as a result of Winnicott's incredible knack for connecting with his audience.
The lively and interesting papers comprising this utterly accessible collection were written over a wide span of time - three decades or more. The selections are varied, and have been separated for readerly convenience into several sections: "Health and Illness," "The Family," and, finally, "Reflections on Society." Some were written in order to be presented at meetings of the medical and/or psychoanalytic community; others, to various civic, political, and other groups (The Progressive League, The Liberal Magazine, The Borstal Assistant Governors' Conference, etc.)
The collection is various and interesting for its content but also for - not in spite of - its grab-bag feel. Winnicott was comfortable with his listeners, and never afraid to speak simply, clearly, and with his trademark empathy intact. In fact, that empathy was at the core of his work. There's a great variety in it, too. "The Price of Disregarding Psychoanalytic Research," a talk given in 1965, details the importance of his philosophy. ("The link between poetic truth and scientific truth is surely in the person, in you and me.") Essays such as the 1963 "The Value of Depression" ("Always, depression implies ego strength...") and the 1967 "Delinquency as a Sign of Hope" ("the antisocial tendency is linked inherently with deprivation" ) show Winnicott at his very best. And the playful and kind 1969 "The Pill and the Moon" - written for an address to the Progressive League in the 1960's - is wonderful.
Some of these hopeful and kindhearted essays show their age, but in a welcome and lovely way, and therefore each is well worth reading and thinking about.