IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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originally had with the soma.“ (p 246 – 47). There is then a dissociation between intellectual capacity and psycho-somatic existence where the “individual [attempts to] solve the personal problem by the use of a fine intellect. [A] clinical picture results which is peculiar in that it very easily deceives.” (1960b, p 144). There is, for the individual in this situation, a loss of a deep sense of self, for which a close link between psyche and soma is essential. Winnicott is intentionally vague when he discusses the true self. “There is but little point in formulating a True Self idea except for the purpose of trying to understand the False Self, because it does no more than collect together the details of the experience of aliveness” (1960b, p 148). The true self is an inborn potential, unique for each individual and fundamentally dependent on a facilitating environment to be articulated and experienced. It is the source of creativity and feeling real and alive “[at] the earliest stage the True Self is the theoretical position from which comes the spontaneous gesture and the personal idea …The True Self comes from the aliveness of the body tissues and the working of body functions … It is closely linked with the idea of Primary Process” (ibid.), that is, it has a deep connection with the Unconscious and with dreaming. In one of the papers in “Playing and Reality” , Winnicott writes about “the deep dreaming that is at the core of the personality” (1971, p 109). That is, the true self is primary, and “the concept of an individual inner reality of objects applies to a stage later than does the concept of what is being termed the True Self” (1960b, p 149). In the rich and complex paper “Communicating and Not Communicating Leading to a Study of Certain Opposites” (1963) Winnicott deepens his thoughts about the true self and gives it a more enigmatic quality. He suggests, “that in health there is a core to the personality that corresponds to the true self of the split personality; I suggest that this core never communicates with the world of perceived objects, and that the individual knows that it must never be communicated with or be influenced by external reality … At the centre of each person is an incommunicado element, and this is sacred and most worthy of preservation” (1963, p 187). This inner centre is “for ever immune from the reality principle, and for ever silent” (ibid, p 192). It is silent in the sense that there is no communication to the outer world, and also in the sense that there is a silent, inner, dreamlike communication with subjective objects and phenomena, that “carries all the sense of real” (ibid, p 184). Real, since it entails connection with the deep, personal central element of the individual. Access to this inner non-communicating centre is inherent to the healthy individual’s capacity to be alone in that it is from here that the spontaneous reaching out towards others stems. Winnicott calls the silent, central communication “direct” and the communication with external objects “indirect”. It is indirect in the sense that it has only a derivative connection with the centre of the personality and at the same time it makes the communication with others alive. Winnicott's thought was directly or indirectly influential in variety of ways on many successive developments of the Self theories across all three psychoanalytic continents, including those of Mahler, Bollas, Modell, Gaddini, Gammelgaard, Badaracco, Bleichmar and many others.


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