Winnicott Phrases: 20 phrases by the psychoanalyst

George Alvarez 18-10-2023
George Alvarez

Donald Woods Winnicott was one of the great early psychoanalysts in the late 1920's. His writings consist of scientific articles, reviews and correspondence, so check them out below 20 phrases by Winnicott that we have separated for you.

Who was Donald Winnicott?

Donald Winnicott, an English psychoanalyst, trained as a pediatrician. The influence of his personal analysis and the observations he made with his young patients sustained his interest in psychoanalysis, and contributed to the development of his theories.

This is why, thanks to his original and innovative ideas, he is an analyst who today carries important weight in psychoanalysis. So, let's get to know some of his phrases!

Winnicott's Phrases

"Attention must be paid to the fact that weakness, withdrawal, omission are as aggressive as the open manifestation of aggression. Being robbed is as aggressive as stealing. Suicide is fundamentally the same as murder."-Winnicott

"Artists are people motivated by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide."- Winnicott

"You sowed a baby and reaped a bomb. [...] Parents can't do much; the best they have to do is survive, survive intact, without changing color, without denying any important principle."- Winnicott

"The search can only come from amorphous and disjointed functioning, or perhaps from rudimentary play, as if in a neutral zone. It is only here, in this unintegrated state of the personality, that the creative, as we have described it, can emerge."- Winnicott

"It is by playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and use the whole personality, and it is only by being creative that the individual discovers himself."- Winnicott

"The mother looks at the baby in her arms, and the baby looks at its mother's face and finds itself in it ... as long as the mother is really looking at the unique, small, helpless being and not projecting her own expectations, fears, and plans onto the child. In that case, the child would not find itself in the mother's face, but in the mother's own projections. This child would be without a mirror, and for the rest ofyour life would be searching for this mirror in vain."- Winnicott

"Tell me what you fear and I will tell you what has happened to you."- Winnicott

"The fact that grief takes so long to resolve is not a sign of inadequacy, but indicates the depth of the soul."- Winnicott

"We struggle to exist. Personally, I am not ashamed to struggle to exist. We are not doing anything extraordinary to struggle simply because we do not want to be enslaved or exterminated."- Winnicott

"The scientific approach to the phenomenon of human nature allows us to be ignorant without fear of bieng, and without, therefore, having to invent all sorts of strange theories to explain our gaps in knowledge."- Winnicott

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10 sentences by winnicott about play

Psychoanalysis with children: "The first mirror of the human creature is the face of the mother: Her expression, her look, her voice [...] It is as if the baby thought: I look and I am seen, therefore I exist" - Winnicott

"It is a joy to be hidden, but a disaster not to be found."- Winnicott

"The child plays (plays), to express aggression, to gain experience, to control anxieties, to establish social contacts as an integration of personality, and for pleasure."- Winnicott

"To hide is a pleasure, but not to be found is a catastrophe.

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"The child is alone only in someone's presence" - Winnicott

"There is no baby, there is a baby and someone" - Winnicott

"It is in play, and perhaps only in play, that the child or adult fructifies in his or her freedom of creation."- Winnicott

"It is in play, and perhaps only in play, that the child is free to be creative."- Winnicott

"Play facilitates growth, and therefore health."- Winnicott

"The precursor of the mirror is the face of the mother" - Winnicott

Winnicott Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis has helped in studies of human aggressiveness, although its authors maintain divergent and sometimes conflicting criteria.

Among the variety of trends, the studies conducted by the English school of psychoanalysis stand out. For this reason, Donald Winnicott's contribution is one of the most unique voices of the 20th century.

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Donald Winnicott Theories

His theories start from the premise that the main psychic conflicts are due to environmental failures, that is, to deficits in the mother's care of her baby's needs.

Therefore, for Winnicott, early development is important, which he shares with Melanie Klein and in this respect distances himself from Freud.

Throughout his career, Winnicott would develop his own thinking of great relevance in the psychoanalytic field, based on several concepts derived both from Kleinian influence and from more orthodox positions within psychoanalytic work.


For Winnicott, these theoretical principles were decisive in the creation of his technique, in which he promotes a warm and favorable affective environment for his patients.

Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear colleagues or think of Winnicott as a loving person with great empathy for others.

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On the contrary, there will be those who think that Winnicott expresses a certain naivety towards the idea of correcting these early deficits from a "new beginning", because he believes that the patient could have a second chance to correct them.


Winnicott thinks that the baby is born with an amount of aggressiveness, which he expresses through different behaviors.

However, when the mother responds with love to these primitive aggressive behaviors, the child understands that she has not destroyed it and that it is not part of her. Thus, later on she begins to accept her responsibility for these feelings.

Therefore, he gave a valuable insight and understanding into the psychic structuring of the person. Moreover, his theorizations allow us to think about some clinical approaches that he carried out from working with sick patients.

Final considerations

In summary, we saw that Winnicott He contributed to psychoanalysis, child analysis, and much more. In addition, he was a dedicated and conscientious member of the British Psychoanalytic Society. Finally, he served on many committees.

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George Alvarez

George Alvarez is a renowned psychoanalyst who has been practicing for over 20 years and is highly regarded in the field. He is a sought-after speaker and has conducted numerous workshops and training programs on psychoanalysis for professionals in the mental health industry. George is also an accomplished writer and has authored several books on psychoanalysis that have received critical acclaim. George Alvarez is dedicated to sharing his knowledge and expertise with others and has created a popular blog on Online Training Course in Psychoanalysis that is widely followed by mental health professionals and students around the world. His blog provides a comprehensive training course that covers all aspects of psychoanalysis, from theory to practical applications. George is passionate about helping others and is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of his clients and students.