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(p. 101) The Child and Sex 

(p. 101) The Child and Sex
Chapter:
(p. 101) The Child and Sex
Author(s):

Donald W. Winnicott

DOI:
10.1093/med:psych/9780190271350.003.0013
Page of

date: 19 October 2018

In this essay, Winnicott argues that the basis of sexual health is laid down in childhood, and then reworked in adolescence. The little child’s physical sex feelings include types of fantasy appropriate to their age. In all cases there is a capacity for identification with the parent of either sex, so a child’s fantasy life contains the whole range of relationships, regardless of its own actual sex. Ordinarily a child’s play is enriched by sexual ideas and symbolism. If there is strong sex-inhibition, play-inhibition follows. Normal healthy play is concerned with sexual ideas and symbols, and a sex-inhibited child is a poor companion. Winnicott concludes that many of the fears of childhood are associated with sexual ideas and excitements, and with consequent conscious and unconscious mental conflicts. Difficulties of the sexual life of the child account for many psychosomatic disorders, especially those of a recurring type.

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