The aim of this chapter is to present some specific aspects of Winnicott’s theory of communication in which he introduces the notion of an ‘incommunicado self’. These themes relate to his reflections on the environmental violation of the self. Through the author’s explication of Winnicott’s concepts, she discusses how she began to formulate her concept of a ‘surviving object’ derived from Winnicott’s late concept ‘survival of the object’ in his paper ‘The Use of an Object’.

With reference to Marion Milner’s challenge to Winnicott, about his concept of an incommunicado self, Abram compares and contrasts their different perspectives. In her conclusions, she argues that Winnicott offers a different perspective from Freud in relation to psychoanalysis and the unconscious.

The clinical example highlights how violation of the self can be repeated in the therapeutic relationship through a marked countertransference reaction of blankness. In identifying this affect the author shows how she makes a reflective interpretation to her patient that instigates a significant memory. The patient’s account of what she remembered depicted an intense maternal transference and highlighted the symbolic cause of the patient’s sense of violation to her core self. In the Discussion, Abram describes how the subsequent incremental working through of early environmental and oedipal elements led to the patient’s psychic and personal change.