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 development is aptly based on one of his most famous statements in which he stated, “there is no such thing as an infant” (Winnicott, 1960). By this he meant that the mother and infant, at first, form an indistinguishable whole. Therefore, it is during this first stage of development that Winnicott believed the infant is that of absolute dependence. During the stage, the infant is completely dependent of his or her mother. The infant needs the mother in order to survive, and for her to adapt to his or her needs. The infant cannot gain control over what is done well, or poorly; but is only in a position to gain profit or to suffer disturbance (Winnicott, 1960). It is during this stage of absolute dependence during which the infant is living in a state of subjective omnipotence. The infant is not aware of his or her mother’s care, or his or her dependence on her; they are one and the same (like Mahler’s symbiosis). For the infant, the mother is him or herself, so when the infant receives what he ...
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St. Clair, M. (1996). Object relations and Self-Psychology: An introduction (2nd Edition). CT: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning.
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Winnicott, D.W. (1960). “Ego distortion in terms of true and false self” in The Maturational process and the facilitating environment: Studies in the theory of emotional development. New York, NY: International UP Inc., pp. 140-152.
Winnicott, D.W. (2008). “The use of an object and relating through identifications” in Playing and reality. New York, NY: Routledge.
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