chapter  8
11 Pages

“A queer kind of truth”

Winnicott and the uses of dissociation

The link between dissociation and pathology is also central to D. W. Winnicott's distinction between "mind" and psyche-soma. As a natural capacity, dissociation may be employed to allow playful or artistic absorption—a focused tapering of attention that necessarily narrows the phenomenal field. One reason Winnicott valorizes both artistic immersion and playing is the opportunities they provide for healthy "voluntary" use of dissociation. In the course of development, Winnicott suggests, dissociation as a natural capacity precedes repression as a defense. What Winnicott refers to as "a queer kind of truth" is the mind's capacity to sequester events that occur without them being felt as something fully real to the traumatized person because "the patient was not there for it to happen to". As engaged witness to the "queer truth" of dissociated experience rather than as knowing interpreter of the patient's repressed unconscious, the analyst may open a space for a vital spark of life.