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(p. 241) The Capacity to Be Alone 

(p. 241) The Capacity to Be Alone
Chapter:
(p. 241) The Capacity to Be Alone
Author(s):

Donald W. Winnicott

DOI:
10.1093/med:psych/9780190271374.003.0060
Page of

date: 23 April 2018

Winnicott discusses what makes it possible for the human being to develop a capacity to be alone. He states that, at first, for the infant, there is no experience of its own body as separate from the environment (the mother). But gradually the individual takes in the ego-supportive mother and becomes able to be alone without frequent reference to the mother or mother symbol. To arrive at what Winnicott calls the stage of ‘I am’ in the self, is only possible because of a protective environment from the very early stages onwards, when the mother is preoccupied with the infant and orientated to his ego requirements through her identification with him and his needs. In time the individual becomes able to forgo the actual presence of a mother or mother-figure.

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