Who better to write a book on who is arguably Britain's most important post-WW2 psychoanalytic writer, than Britian's most widely-read contemporary psychoanalytic writer? As any psychoanalytic psychotherapist will testify, contemporary therapy would be no where near what it is without Donald Winnicott. Adam Phillips (himself a practicing child and adult therapist) has said that, without having immersed himself in Winnicott's writings in particular, he could not have developed his own style and begun disseminating his own unique brand of psychoanalytic writing. This immersion is here more than evident. Phillips goes into comprehensive detail, displaying a thorough awareness of both the man and his ideas, yet never so abstractly that we lose track of the larger journey that is explicated through the various chapters of the book. Winnicott's major theoretical concepts are elaborated from first principles - the True/False Self dichotomy, Holding vs. Interpretation, etc. - interwoven with illuminating biographical information. Clearly deeply researched and intellectually considered, Phillips's Winnicott is just that: personal yet never polemic, distanced yet thought-provokingly involved. The book is rare - how many other biographies inspire one to go out and find others by the author *and* his subject? Although the reader new to psychoanalytic jargon might become unstuck in more than one or two places, these are moments worth suffering: for the trainee and the fascinated layperson alike, the book remains - quintessentially - unmissable.
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