Advanced Psychopathology

Sunday, March 19, 2006

 

Freud, Fairbairn, and Winnicott

Freud, Fairbairn, and Winnicott
The Independent school of British psychoanalysis produced such theorists as Fairbairn and Winnicott. Following the direction of Balint, these theorists believed that the desire to be loved was primary, unlike the Freudian concept of primary narcissism, which theorized that infant self-love precedes object love. In the Independent school’s view, the infant views itself as undifferentiated from the love object, which exists to serve or to love the infant. The infant’s ego experience is one of omnipotent control over the object. As long as the object is available and under the infant’s control, it is viewed as being loving.
A further difference between Freudian theory and the Independent school was articulated by Fairbairn. He viewed the libido as being primarily object-seeking, versus being primarily pleasure-seeking. In his view, pleasure is a secondary gain of object relatedness.
Both classical Freudian theory and the Independent school view adult psychopathology as reflecting some early trauma. The classical model applies to conflicts that arise during the oedipal phase of psychosexual development (3-4 years of age). The Independent school’s theory applies to pathologies that arise before the oedipal phase. Both Winnicott and Fairbairn view schizophrenia as the result of a total lack of a maternal care while the infant still is dependent upon the mother, viewing her as an undifferentiated part of himself. Personality disorders, according to Winnicott, result from having had a “good enough mother” who then was lost (deprivation).
Fairbairn also identified certain pathologies as originating during infancy. Schizoid personalities result from an infant viewing his love for his mother as being destructive. Depressive personalities result at a later stage when the infant views his aggression was destructive of the mother.
The dialectic view of the infant is a final difference between the Independent school and classical theory. Freud viewed the infant as being unable to differentiate the self from the environment. However, Winnicott viewed the infant as perceiving itself as a separate physical object.

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