On the Capacity to be Alone In the Presence of Another…

I’ve written about this concept by DW Winnicott on past posts – ‘the capacity to be alone in the presence of another’ –  one that underlies many aspects of our developmental journey – our capacity for solitude, for good reading and attention, love in relationships, and self respect, inter alia…

   This excerpt is from a write up that details an interview with Adam Phillips on this topic. Both links are included below: 

PHILLIPS: That idea was one of Winnicott’s most radical, because what he was saying was that solitude was prior to the wish to transgress. That there’s something deeply important about the early experience of being in the presence of somebody without being impinged upon by their demands, and without them needing you to make a demand on them. And that this creates a space internally into which one can be absorbed. In order to be absorbed one has to feel sufficiently safe, as though there is some shield, or somebody guarding you against dangers such that you can “forget yourself ” and absorb yourself, in a book, say. Or, for the child, in a game. It must be one of the precursors of reading, I suppose. I think for Winnicott it would be the definition of a good relationship if, in the relationship, you would be free to be absorbed in something else.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/06/09/adam-phillips-paul-holdengraber-interview/

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6286/the-art-of-nonfiction-no-7-adam-phillips

Enjoy.

 

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2 Comments

Filed under mental health, notes, psychiatry, psychoanalytic articles, psychoanalytic psychotherapy/counseling, psychology, Uncategorized

2 responses to “On the Capacity to be Alone In the Presence of Another…

  1. This is a wonderful article that speaks to something I have often reflected on – the fact that as we get older we seem to be faced more and more with the inevitability of being/feeling alone – an experience that co-exists and is quite apart from the random connections we feel with others. I also particularly liked this comment on analysis: “Analysis should do two things that are linked together. It should be about the recovery of appetite, and the need not to know yourself… Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge. When you think, I’m agoraphobic, I’m a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. It’s only worth knowing about the things that make one’s life worth living, and whether there are in fact things that make it worth living.” Brilliant!! Thanks for bringing this to my attention – I LOVE Brainpickings!

    • Margaret,
      Marvelous that this evoked such feeling in you…and I also like Phillips’ way of utilizing the idea of appetites. (It brought to mind V Woolf’s use of ‘delicious’ in her writing…)
      Apologies in advance…your reply deserves more thoughtt and time…but I’m in between pts right now…I will write more later…Rudy

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