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(p. 361) Letter to R. D. Laing 

(p. 361) Letter to R. D. Laing
(p. 361) Letter to R. D. Laing

Donald W. Winnicott

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Subscriber: null; date: 23 October 2018

Originally published in Rodman, F. R. (Ed.), The spontaneous gesture. Selected letters of D. W. Winnicott (Letter 72, p. 119). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987.
R. D. Laing (1927–89) was a Scottish psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who trained in London at the British Psychoanalytic Society and the Tavistock Clinic.

18 July 1958

Dear Dr Laing,

Yesterday I had my first chance to read your MS,i which I insulted by getting through it in two hours. You will understand from this that I did not do it justice. After reading it I tried to ring you up because I was so excited. I suppose my excitement had to do with the fact that you make so much use of the sort of things that I think important. Certainly you are very generous in your attributions.

It is possible that in your build-up at the beginning you are talking to yourself quite a bit. This may be a good way of starting a book but I did not really get interested until I was about a third of the way through. I hope the book gets published soon and that from there you may get on to making a more concise theoretical statement.

Incidentally I learned something from your book which is always exciting; something you said about being watched in paranoid states made me see that (p. 362) one of my patients is being watched by a projection of her true self. This is something I had not thought of and it helps me very considerably.

Thank you very much for letting me see the MS. I look forward to reading the book.

Yours sincerely,


Editorial Note i Laing had sent Winnicott the manuscript of ‘The Divided Self’. Winnicott and Marion Milner, Laing’s supervisors, along with Bowlby, Rycroft and John Sutherland, supported Laing’s qualification as a psychoanalyst against the recommendation of the Training Committee. (Reported by Adrian Laing in R.D. Laing: A Life (pp. 65–66). London, Harper Collins, 1997).