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I can see no instinct drive in this. However, I do not think that this is exactly what Winnicott is saying, given that, for him, the body and its pressures are present from the beginning, from the moment when there is an organization of the nervous system capable of giving meanings to physical events a, p. The body and the psyche, which may also be considered, at this initial moment, as synonyms for id-needs and ego-needs as an ontological necessity for being , are merged and it is not possible to dissociate them , p.

Throughout the process of development a differentiation of this initial situation can be observed and the idneeds become more clearly different from the needs for being or of the ego and are experienced as different from the needs for being.


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The first situation, which Winnicott characterizes as the relation of absolute dependence — in which the mother—environment adapts to the needs of the baby, constituting a unit with him — corresponds to the situation in which the baby depends on the mother—environment without knowing what dependence is. It is the motor of development, the source of all significant changes. First, the instincts are experienced by the baby as external to himself.

In the area that I am examining, the instincts are not yet clearly defined as internal to the infant. The instincts can be as much external as can a clap of thunder or a hit. Winnicott, c, p. What Freud discovered and characterized as sexuality, both infantile and adult, corresponds, for Winnicott, to what neurotics those who have been able to constitute themselves as real persons experience in their interpersonal relationships and, in this sense, we can say that sexuality corresponds to a certain way, elaborated and more mature, of experiencing instinctual life.

For Winnicott, the instincts, seen as real biological pressures , p. The imaginative elaboration does not correspond to a psychic representation of the somatic excitation; nor is it synonymous with sexual fantasy which would imply a series of mature elaborations by the individual, which were absent at the beginning , but corresponds to an activity that establishes a semantics for bodily experiences which, apart from organizing and unifying instinctual experiences, enabled the individual to prepare himself for the satisfaction of these instinctual pressures cf.

Winnicott, , pp. Winnicott considers that, throughout the maturational process, the imaginative elaboration of all body functioning occurs in terms of the dominant type of instinctual excitation for example, the oral excitation of the beginning and the genital excitation of maturity cf.

Human sexuality, infantile and adult alike, corresponds to a conquest of the process of emotional development. It is founded on the development of instinctual life as a certain way of living the imaginative elaboration of biological pressures at a moment when the individual is able to recognize that bodily excitations originate within himself. He may have taken these terms as synonyms and he was not clear enough in his description of how and when this integration occurs.

In my view, this integration concerns the moment in the process of emotional development when the infant has reached the phase I AM, by distinguishing ego from not-ego, and he follows his process of development integration until he has achieved the existential status of feeling and living as a Whole Person and has relations with others as whole persons too. This does not amount to saying that the body has been excluded, that sexuality has been excluded, that the initial mother— baby situation has been conceived of idyllically, without the presence of instinctual life, but rather that the need for being is greater than instinctual needs or id-needs, even though it includes them.

Kohon, ] , by mixing them with metapsychological propositions for example, his hypothesis of a de-objectalizing function, even though auxiliary constructions of this kind have their heuristic value , and considering them as being of the same order. In my opinion, Winnicott did not find in speculative metapsychological concepts the necessary referents for a theory capable of describing the facts that he was trying to understand.

See, for instance, how he refers to the concept of the death drive, as a sort of jargon that obscures more than it elucidates certain phenomena: I would like to say, however, that it is very confusing in the Society when various terms are used as if they were fully accepted. You may feel this is very important, as indeed it is in the context of your paper, but it would be really valuable in the Society if we could find a common language. Winnicott, , p. As for the libido, understood as psychical energy, and the drive, understood as a psychic force, this is not so clear and requires a longer demonstration.

This in turn would imply a more extensive line of argumentation than I have the space to develop in this article; but it has been the subject, at least in regard to the metapsychological notion of Trieb, of other articles for example, see Fulgencio, , I think that Winnicott rejected speculative metapsychology, both consciously and rationally, because he considered that it obscured discussion, given that, for him, metapsychological concepts do not have clear and objective referents and give an illusion of comprehension where there is, in fact, none.

Fulgencio superstructure. Assoun thinks that Winnicott is an a-metapsycholoical, and even an a-theoretical author because, for him, metapsychology in its speculative theoretical structure corresponds to psychoanalytic theory proper , p.

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In reading Winnicott, even though he praises him for his freedom of thought, he does not find a metapsychological theory like that of Freud or other authors such as Klein, Lacan, Bion, Binswanger, etc. Assoun makes no distinction either between a speculative metapsychological theorization and a factual psychoanalytic theory; and in my view, this led him to consider Winnicott as an anthropologist on the frontier and sometimes outside it of the psychoanalytic field. To these may be added the fact that Winnicott seeks to distance himself from jargon inasmuch as, for him, it involves terms that give the appearance of comprehension without really supplying it.

This does not mean, though, that his concepts are not abstract, given that every concept, by definition, is an abstraction.

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However, these abstractions are not like those which do not have, or will never have, referents in phenomenal reality, as is the case for the concepts of the psychical apparatus and the Centaur. Further, we might ask ourselves if the notions of being, continuity of being, pure feminine element, essential aloneness, innate tendency towards integration, sacred core of selfhood, and imaginative elaboration of body functioning, are not themselves speculations and, in this sense, simply serve to replace the Freudian speculative superstructure with another that is the same on an epistemological level, as Lacan and Bion have suggested.

The notion of BEING does not correspond to a myth or to a theoretical fiction; it is not even an analogy, but an experience that is recognizable as much by its presence patients who have have managed to achieve a status of being and to continue being as by its absence patients who struggle to achieve the status of BEING either because they have never encountered the suitable environmental conditions necessary for achieving it or because they have developed a pathological false-self. When Winnicott speaks of essential aloneness, a state of not-being from which being emerges , p. In such cases, the lack of being, the impingements or the annihilations of being, are recognized clinically as facts that have referents in phenomenal reality which, consequently, may be able to give a referent to these concepts, even though they are not objectifiable like the concepts of transference, resistance, Oedipus complex, infantile sexuality, and so on.

Admittedly, these concepts are not objectifiable like the concepts of dog or transference; nevertheless, albeit always abstract, they are not speculative like the concepts Pegasus and psychical apparatus which will never have an adequate referent in phenomenal reality. If something is not objectifiable, it does not mean that it is a speculation: the electron, as a wave or particle, has also been seen, in physics, as being difficult to objectify without, however, being taken as a speculation. Furthermore, we know that the myth of Totem and Taboo, as well as the drives, among other concepts of this type, will never have a referent that can correspond adequately.

In this sense, I consider that these concepts of Winnicott — the notions of being, continuity of being, pure feminine element, essential aloneness, innate tendency towards integration, sacred core of the self, imaginative elaboration of body functioning — do not constitute auxiliary constructions belonging to a speculative superstructure of psychoanalysis, but concepts that have possible referents in phenomenal reality, even if they are not objectifiable.

They are concepts that make it possible to describe the factual aspects which are at the basis of the process of the emotional development of the human being. Final considerations It is thus possible to consider that one of the consequences of this type of distinction between the different ways of theorizing in psychoanalysis, whether it is a theory of psychic processes or a theory of clinical practice, is a return to the very nature and function of speculative metapsychology, as Freud conceived of it, namely, as a scaffolding for the construction of a buiding!

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This does not amount, however, to a condemnation of any kind of analogical model, albeit speculative; nor does it represent a crucifixion of metapsychological theorization; it is simply to recognize its value, its limits, and the objectives it serves. Still more radically, Winnicott tried to formulate theories that were not instruments for making discoveries, but rather the expression of these discoveries themselves. If for Freud, speculative metapsychology was necessary , p.

Another important consequence of this type of reasoning concerns the task or the possibility of integrating psychoanalytic theories.


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In his wisdom, he replied that before reaching a common and sole language in psychoanalysis, it was necessary to go to the extremes of each particular idiom, theoretically speaking, of course. Today, psychoanalysis resembles a language spoken in several dialects.

I think that my distinction of metapsychology as an instrument that permits us to know certain phenomena and their relations may contribute, paradoxically, to achieveing this task of integration while respecting the difference of language and trying to integrate the facts of which they speak, namely, their referents. Fulgencio synthesis between the instruments of research. However, the development of our psychoanalytic science as a theory and as clinical practice is not concerned with metapsychology or the synthesis of metapsychologies, but rather with the extension and in this sense, capable of integration of what the metapsychologies and descriptive theories have enabled us to see, to grasp, and to link up in the phenomena of emotional life and of psychoanalytic practice.

To this end, we should also ask ourselves what language and semantics are needed to describe the facts integrated in this manner, but this is a theme that lies beyond the scope of the present article. Like any science, the development of psychoanalysis is based on tradition and the refinement of the descriptions and explanations relating to the relations of reciprocal determination between the phenomena, as well as on the need to go beyond metaphors and analogies which, while necessary at a given moment, will be replaced by theories ultimately dispensable which give a succinct description of the facts, the problems, and their solutions.

Next, by considering the opposing hypotheses according to which Winnicott rejected or recast the metapsychology, I have tried to distinguish two distinct senses or referents for this term: 1 a set of auxiliary constructions of a speculative character; and 2 psychoanalytic theory, in its broader sense, constituted by speculative and non-speculative concepts. On the basis of these distinctions, I offer a critique of the opinions of Girard who affirms that Winnicott recast metapsychology ; of Green who criticizes Winnicott for having abandoned the metapsychology, in particular regarding the death drive ; and of Assoun who sees Winnicott as an a-metapsychological author outside the psychoanalytic field , while asserting that: 1 Winnicott rejected speculative metapsychology and reformulated recast the psychoanalytic theory of development and of clinical facts; 2 speculative metapsychology is rejected in favour of another type of theorization which I have called factual or descriptive; and, finally, 3 in presenting a psychoanalysis without speculative metapsychology, Winnicott is able to present a consistent psychoanalytic theory without ceasing to be a psychoanalyst.

With such epistemological and methodological distinctions, it is possible, on the one hand, to distinguish and evaluate in a more precise manner the nature and the objectives of speculative metapsychology as an instrument that seeks to describe phenomena , thereby avoiding taking the scaffolding for the building ; and, on the other, to furnish a distinction that contributes to realizing the task of integrating psychoanalytic discoveries, based on different theoretical models, given that it is not speculative metapsychologies that can be integrated, but the empirical discoveries that the theories have made it possible to achieve.

In einem Dialog mit Girard, Green und Assoun postuliert der Autor zwei unterschiedliche Typen von Referenten des Begriffs Metapsychologie: einen spekulativen und einen faktischen. Di recente, Girard ha pubblicato un articolo nel quale mostra come Winnicott fornisca una base fattuale alla metapsicologia.

Andre Green at Squiggle: Context and reflections by Jan Abrams

The death drive: Conceptual analysis and relevance in the Spanish psychoanalytic community. Int J Psychoanal — Paris: PUF. Assoun PL Introduction a Assoun PL In: Cyssau C, Villa F, editors. Towards a better use of Bohleber W, Fonagy P, Jime psychoanalytic concepts: A model illustrated using the concept of enactment. Caldwell L, editor Sex and sexuality: Winnicottian perspectives. London: Karnac. Winnicott Studies Monograph Series. Freud S The interpretation of dreams. SE 4—5. A note on the unconscious in psychoanalysis.

SE —6. Freud S a. On narcissism: An introduction.


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