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(p. 149) A Primary State of Being: Pre-Primitive Stages 

(p. 149) A Primary State of Being: Pre-Primitive Stages
(p. 149) A Primary State of Being: Pre-Primitive Stages

Donald W. Winnicott

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date: 21 October 2020

In this chapter, Winnicott looks at the earliest stages of emotional development and the fact of dependence of infant upon mother. From a kind of ‘not being’ the baby comes, with sensitive care, into a state of ‘being’. There is a paradox here for Winnicott: the baby is essentially alone and, without knowing it, also extremely dependent on the caring environment mother. Winnicott posits that this ‘aloneness’ is normal and occurs because dependence has not yet been recognised. He considers the place of Freud’s life and death instincts, proposing instead that the aloneness as life begins (and ideas about the ‘second death’ after life ends) arises as a result of a state of unawareness of dependence.

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