Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby: Personal and Professional Perspectives

By deMause, Lloyd | The Journal of Psychohistory, Spring 2006 | Go to article overview

Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby: Personal and Professional Perspectives


deMause, Lloyd, The Journal of Psychohistory


Donald Winnicott and John Bowlby: Personal and Professional Perspectives Judith Issroff. London: Karnac, 2005.

Sometimes a book comes out on the history of psychoanalysis that throws light on some aspects of the history of psychohistory. This is one such book. Issroff describes early theoretical issues between Winnicott, Bowlby, Klein and others in such fascinating detail that one can clearly see them struggling with issues that have been central to our own field of historical motivations. One of the main issues of British psychoanalysis in the 1960s and 70s, for instance, was the split between Klein and Winnicott-with Bowlby tending to side with Winnicott-on how much of neurotic and psychotic behavior came from purely internal (inherited, genetic) sources, as Freud posited, and how much from parental neglect and abuse (mainly by the mother, who was the main caretaker in the first five years of life.) As readers of this Journal know, my psychogenic theory has long stressed the latter, since gene pools of nations do not change very much in a few generations while historical personalities change radically within a few decades.

Issroff says the view of how prevalent child abuse has been throughout history was radically changed by "the publication of deMause's disturbing, scholarly compilation of the recorded history of childhood [since before this] we did not yet recognize quite how prevalent the incidence of actual abuse, neglect, torture, exploitation of children, and slavery was. …

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