Show Summary Details
Page of

(p. 101) The Child and Sex 

(p. 101) The Child and Sex
(p. 101) The Child and Sex

Donald W. Winnicott

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Clinical Psychology Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 27 September 2020

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.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Clinical Psychology requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.