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(p. 141) The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship 

(p. 141) The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship
(p. 141) The Theory of the Parent-Infant Relationship

Donald W. Winnicott

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date: 28 February 2021

In this paper on the subject of the parent-infant relationship given at an IPA congress, Winnicott looks at actual infancy, as against the psychoanalytic study of primitive mental mechanisms. He asserts that dependence is the key factor in infancy. This dependence needs the ‘holding environment’ of the mother/parental couple. Infancy is enabled by good maternal care and equally may be distorted by inadequate maternal care. The ego of the infant, weak to begin with, is strengthened if all goes well, and he sees the mother-father couple as innately capable of adapting to the infant, although pathology may yet arise in this stage. Winnicott illustrates how strength or weakness of the meeting of dependency in the infant by the parents may then be accessed (or not) in the analytic setting.

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