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The Piggle: An Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of a Little Girl (Penguin Psychology) Paperback – 31 Jan 1991

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (31 Jan. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140146679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140146677
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Woo on 15 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a fascinating account about the psychoanalysis of a young child from the age of 2+ to 5; the move from a very disturbed toddler who has to refer herself as "the piggle" to an integrated self-reflective 5 year-old who can use her own name, is easy to read and absorb, unlike many such psychoanalytic texts. Winnicott explores with delicacy the unravelling of the Piggle's problems and should not ever have needed to defend his description of this work as psychoanalysis.. A must read for every Child Psychologist
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tarkus on 5 April 2014
Format: Paperback
I read this shortly after finishing Melanie Klein's "narrative of a Child Analysis", and found the comparison fascinating.
The general approach is similar, with the bulk of the book comprising a detailed account of a series of psychoanalytic sessions with a child. Klein's book describes over 90 individual sessions with a 10 year old boy; in this case, there are just 15 "consultations", underaken over a much longer period, with a 3 - 5 year old girl.

In addition to verbatim excerpts from the sessions, there are Winnicott's brief notes and annotations, plus chunks of letters written to him by the girl's parents in between consultations.

However, this explanatory material is scanty. In this introduction, Winnicott writes -

"I have added comments, but not enough - it is hoped - to prevent the reader from developing a personal view of the material and its evolution"

Unfortunately, the session material itself is fragmentary, sometimes confused and often unclear (endearingly, Winnicott often confesses his own confusion, lapses in concentration and lack of understanding)

This seems reasonable when considering the material itself, but the reader would certainly benefit from greater insight into the author's reasoning, why he felt a particular interpretation was appropriate, or why a particular reading of the process seemed to him to be more accurate than another. In any case, the reader will benefit from having some understanding of Freudian psychoanalytic theory.

As far the actual value of the therapeutic intervention itself goes, this reader found it a real mixed bag. Winnicot's reading of the termination of the process was persuasive, for example.
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By Ollivia on 19 Sept. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very outdated method of psychoanalysis, poor little girl, I was glad I was not his client at that age. Bit of a must read though if you are studying Winnicott to see what went on at that time.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrea on 6 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book to assist study for a child pyschology course. Whilst the book itself and interviews with the child are very interesting, the author does not follow up his study of the child with a conclusion of what he believed the root of the emotional problems and why they were manifesting in the ways demonstrated by the child. Although one can make an educated guess as to why this may be, sometimes even educated guesses (especially from one only just embarking on a pyschology course) could be completely wrong! Whilst the book lends an insight into the parental role in the issues the child is facing (and reinforcing that even the most intelligent people do not necessarily make wonderful role models) I found it very frustrating that more "substance" was not provided by the author.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Finding the Piggle 26 Feb. 2003
By Marilyn Graves, - Published on
Format: Paperback
The Piggle is an account of a child analysis, a case history. That child is Gabrielle, nicknamed "the piggle" and she was two and a half years old at the onset of her treatment. The Piggle is a delightful book to read. Though it is a professional psychoanalytic text, it is not stuffy or full of jargon. This book is a very good starting point for learning about how children's minds work and the role that fantasy and play have in healthy psychological development. Reading it is like learning your A. B. C's as a song rather than having to learn by rote.
Gabrielle's parents brought her to Dr. Winnicott's office because she had trouble sleeping, anxiety problems and because she was not herself. Other symptoms included nightmares, difficulty controlling her temper, difficulty in concentration, and listlessness. When she was first seen, she seemed to withdraw from relationships with people. This flight from other relationships and premature independence caused alarm her parents. Gabrielle's sister was born when Gabrielle was 21 months old. The Piggle exhibited jealousy and regressive behaviors (acting more childishly than she was developmentally). Gabrielle presented what some people might call alarming fantasies. They were fantasies gone wild and they consumed her so that she seemed to live inside them somewhat like an adult psychotic might do. The fantasies Gabrielle presented have a "through the looking glass" quality at times. She had trouble telling reality from her dreams. Verbally, a complex story emerged full of "babacars," "yams," "sush babies," "moo's burrr's" and "bryyyyyh babies." These were her made up words for things or people in her world.
Because the child lived far from Dr. Winnicott's office, her parents had to travel a long way by train to be seen. For this reason she was seen on demand or whenever it seemed necessarily. There were only 14 sessions during the whole course of treatment which began when she was two and a half and ended when she was aged five.
During the beginning of the treatment Gabrielle was having frequent nightmares. She would not admit to being herself saying rather that she was this or that imaginary person. She would often say that "the piggle" had gone away. She was full of aggressive feelings. Many of these fantasies appeared to relate to her mother's pregnancy. The "Sush Baba" was her sister Susan. Her parents suspected Gabrielle had tried to become prematurely independent when Susan was born but could not sustain this because she did not have the emotional skills and resources to do so. They are quoted as saying, "when Susan was born, Gabrielle seemed somehow thrown out of her mold, and off from her sources of nourishment (p. 20).
Gabrielle is concerned with "nastiness" (p. 99), her own and that of others. About this issue, Winnicott shows us how people, even children symbolize their experiences in interlocking images, ideas, and feelings. Strange and complex mental representations occur in even two year olds.
Winnicott is showing us through direct case history how the oddity of psychoanalytic child therapy plays out. For example, Winnicott says, "Here she was eating the plastic man. I said she was eating the man because she wanted to eat me." Then he says, "If you eat me that would be taking me away inside you, and then you would not mind going" (p 105). This is said to three and one half year old Gabrielle who is playing with a plastic toy. Winnicott is speaking metaphor to her and what he is saying is that Gabrielle misses him (the plastic man represents him) when she is away. If she could internalize a symbolic representation (a memory) of him she would not mind going home so much and would be able to tolerate the separation because she could evoke her memory of him to comfort herself. Gabrielle speaks metaphor also and she understands what he means when he makes the interpretations of her actions. When psychoanalytic people talk of this they say internalization, introjection, incorporation, or transmuting internalization to refer to phenomena in this general ball park. This is the technical language of metapsychology and Winnicott does not need to refer to it to explain the situation. It makes reading him much more accessible and much less tedious.
As the treatment progresses, both Winnicott and Gabrielle's parents agree that "Gabrielle showed growing confidence now in my ability to tolerate muddle, dirt, inside things, and incontinence and madness" (p. 105). (That's a good thing.)
As the treatment is nearing termination, Winnicott receives very high praise from the patient, `Dr. Winnicott is a very good maker-better of babies.' (p. 107).
All in all, this book is a very good read containing a startling amount of information despite the relaxed tone and jargon-free language. It makes a good starting point for acquiring a professional understanding of psychoanalytic treatment methodology and is understandable with a little help by most parents.
Marilyn Graves, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice who sees children, adolescents, and adults. She also writes book reviews and parenting articles.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Piggle 8 Feb. 2007
By Phoebe T. Marrall - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a illuminating account not only of a little girl but of D.W. Winnicott himself, the master analyst.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A sensible author 17 Nov. 2013
By maria t m de barros - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Winnicott's repport is so sensible and still valid today. I'm na enthousiast of his work and his ideas.He is very updated
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