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(p. 389) Ego Integration in Child Development 

(p. 389) Ego Integration in Child Development
(p. 389) Ego Integration in Child Development

Donald W. Winnicott

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date: 03 March 2021

In this paper describing the integration of the ego in child development, Winnicott proposes that the relative strength of the ego of the child depends on maternal provision from the start. The mother enables the baby to relate to her as a ‘subjective object’ so that the potential ‘unthinkable anxiety’ states may never have to be faced. However, if there are failures of this care, then distortions of the ego do occur. Winnicott lists these as falling to pieces, falling forever, no relationship to the body and no orientation sense. Winnicott refers to infantile schizophrenia (autism), to latent schizophrenia and to the False Self defence in relation to the distortions of the ego. If all is well, however, integration, personalization and object relating follow for the infant, together with the sense of ‘I am’. A unit self is based on this ego strength and growth is thus enabled.

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