chapter  5
26 Pages

Applying the work of Winnicott and Lacan: The problem of psychosis

ByLEWIS A. KIRSHNER

The theme of this volume is the possibility of a psychoanalytic therapy that can move between two seemingly incompatible theories of personal mental life: D. W. Winnicott’s model of a self, born in the context of a pediatrician’s notion of good enough mothering, and Jacques Lacan’s conception of the subject, with roots in phenomenology and linguistics. In this chapter, I focus on their contributions to understanding and treating psychosis, reviewing some of the important concepts they introduced and applying them to clinical material with a paranoid patient. I approach their respective positions as in some ways complementary, in others more dialectically opposed, pointing to ramications beyond the two authors to wider trends within contemporary psychotherapeutic practice. Juxtaposing Winnicott and Lacan in this way can help us see the problems of our current methods and concepts more clearly and contribute to enlivening and enriching our work with more troubled patients.