Preface to the chinese edition

It is with great satisfaction that I write the preface to the Chinese edition of my book on Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes. I have good reasons to do so since this edition gives me the opportunity to introduce the “backbone” of Winnicott’s thought to the Chinese public. 

Winnicott was a paediatrician who subordinated all his work to the purpose of developing a theory of maturational processes, which would account for the conditions under which a baby, who is immature and highly dependent on environmental care at the beginning of life, if such care is provided appropriately, gradually becomes a person integrated into an I, capable of establishing relations with external reality, of taking care of him- or herself, of assuming responsibility for his or her own life and of establishing social relations; a person capable of enjoying or even contributing to the cultural heritage of humanity, with the feeling that despite inherent problems and suffering, life is worth living. 

In order to fulfil his task as a paediatrician more effectively, Winnicott sought knowledge and experience in psychoanalysis, and became a psychoanalyst who treated both children and psychotic adults. His aim was to use the knowledge obtained from the observation of regressive phenomena in the treatment of his psychotic patients in his child practice, and, in the same way, apply what he learnt from mothers and their babies to his work with psychotic adults. He eventually developed what he called child psychiatry, based on a radically changed psychoanalysis. The change essentially consisted of three points: 1) the formulation of a theory of maturational processes which would serve as a guiding theory for understanding maturational pathologies, as well as for clinical practice, and of which a theory of sexuality is a part; 2)  the assessment of the environmental factor, particularly the initial one, in the establishment of the human individual since the very beginning; and 3) the replacement of internal conflicts, concentrated in the Oedipal Complex and prioritised by traditional psychoanalysis, with the problems experienced in the mother’s lap and within the ever wider circles which replace that lap during the maturational process, such as family, school and society in general.

Since Winnicott’s theory conceptualises and describes the various tasks, achievements and difficulties which are part of the maturational process from the absolute beginning and in each stage of life, it serves as a guide both to understanding health-related phenomena, permitting the better use of an individual’s health resources, and to diagnosing and treating as early as possible those difficulties which have not been resolved in previous maturational stages. 

Formulated in those terms, Winnicott’s maturational pathology makes a fundamental contribution to psychoanalytical and psychotherapeutic clinical practice, shedding light on diagnosis and guiding the therapist, who must be capable of knowing the patient’s emotional age at any particular moment of the therapeutic relationship in order both to understand the immaturity which is exposed and to help the patient at the various stages of his/her development, including the phases of major dependence. This perspective contributes to the treatment of the so-called difficult cases, not covered by traditional psychoanalysis. Furthermore, this theory allows us to re-think therapeutic procedures in several other fields of healthcare such as psychiatry, child psychiatry, phonoaudiology, nursing, psychiatric social service, occupational therapy, as well as to instruct social workers and educators about care that promotes maturational development. Finally, it makes a precious contribution to all those who are involved in prevention policies. 

Addressing different audiences, Winnicott’s articles cover sparse subjects. My intention in writing this book which is now being published in Chinese, was to provide a more systematic reading of Winnicott’s work, determining with greater clarity the unity of his thought and presenting in a more unified and comprehensive form his crucial contribution to psychoanalytical theory and clinical practice and to various other fields of healthcare. It seemed to me, already at the time of the first edition, that an articulate presentation of Winnicott’s thought around one of his main axes, namely the theory of the maturational processes, would promote understanding and consequently facilitate the reception of his complex and innovative theoretical perspective, from which a far-reaching and efficient clinical practice emerges.

In addition to disseminating Winnicott’s work, I had yet another goal: to draw the attention of the specialised public to the fact that, besides being an exceptional clinician, Winnicott developed a unitary, consistent theoretical framework which represents a decisive step in the development of psychoanalysis and which may be regarded as a new paradigm in this discipline. Despite the apparent looseness or dispersion, Winnicott’s work has an internal organization and a very particular coherence, so that it is possible to extract from it without too great effort a radically renewed psychoanalytical vision on health, illness and clinical practice, as well as teachings of vital relevance which apply to areas which are not strictly clinical.

These propositions were favourably received in Brazil by a significant group of highly qualified professionals, allowing for the creation of institutions, the São Paulo Winnicott Centre (CWSP), in 2003, in particular, and the Brazilian Society of Winnicottian Psychoanalysis (SBPW), in 2005, with the objective of promoting teaching, research and publication in the fields of Winnicottian studies. Teaching was implemented by the creation of the Training Course in Winnicottian Psychoanalysis which later expanded in order to encompass other modalities of clinical practice carried out or conceived by Winnicott. The new course, called Winnicottian Training Course, is currently under the responsibility of the Brazilian Institute of Winnicottian Psychoanalysis (IBPW), which was founded in 2015. Research conducted by the group has been presented in a series of events dedicated to Winnicott in several places in Brazil and in other countries. Publication related to research has been taken over by DWW Editorial, the publishers of the SBPW. Successful and innovative activities developed by the Winnicottian School of São Paulo have drawn international attention, making possible the foundation of the International Winnicott Association (IWA) in São Paulo, in 2013. 

I do not hide my satisfaction to see these developments now published in what for me is the remote land of China. Thus, the fruitful trend towards globalization of scientific work gains strenght, liberating it from the inertia found in centres of traditional research which is often adverse to innovative ideas. I hope that my book will contribute to narrow the cultural relations between Brazil and China, which are still in their beginning, but will develop significantly in different fields and modalities. 

There is a happy and successful story behind the publication of this book. It all started when Dr. Ling Sunang, from the Y Kang Center of Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, invited my husband, the philosopher Zeljko Loparic, and me to speak about Winnicott to a group of his fellow psychiatrists and therapists while we were visiting Beijing. We held a short seminar, which was followed by supervision work. During lunch, offered to us by Dr. Zhao Chengzhi right after the seminar, one member of the Y Kant Center inquired us about the possibility of us developing a constant activity about Winnicott at the Huilogguan Hospital. Six months later, we were contacted in Brazil and invited to teach an intensive half-yearly  course over a period of three years, to be offered during the months of May and November, to that same group of therapists who came from different places in China. We accepted the invitation promptly. The course was held between 2014 and 2016, being  recognised as a CME course. In 2017, it was reprogrammed for another period of two years, and  due to the great public interest, another class was formed with the same basic programme. The former class continued at a more advanced level. 

It was an extremely rewarding experience to see the reception and the devoted attention given to our theoretical and pratical teachings. It became clear that despite the fact that participants had taken part in training courses of psychotherapeutical practices that differed from Winnicott’s, such as the various modalities of traditional psychoanalysis (Freudian, Kleinian, Lacanian) or Jung’s individual psychology, they promptly acknowledged the fact that those approaches did not cover some of the most severe disorders which they encountered, and that Winnicott’s programme of multiple therapeutical modalities, including the institutional ones, offered fruitful alternatives. It was an interesting and pleasant surprise to see, through the clinical reports of the supervisioned  cases, the clinical and human sensibility of the therapists who attended the course. Furthermore, it was rewarding to note how right Winnicott is when he claims that human nature is the same anywhere in the world and has not changed fundamentally for a long time no matter the ages or the cultural differences that are involved. The fact is that the difficulties experienced by Chinese patients are basically the same as those experienced by Brazilian patients when understood from Winnicott’s perspective. For example, the issue of establishing and maintaining a creative self is basic and recurrent in both countries. Difficulties regarding environmental relations such as the mother’s lap, family, school and society in adult life have similar weight and complexity; the need to develop and socialize  without  too great sacrifice of personal spontaneity is equally urgent. None of those difficulties can be reduced to the internal conflicts of Freudian or Kleinian psychoanalysis, to the lack of insertion of Lacan’s symbolic order, to Jung’s irruptions of the collective unconscious, and nor can they be considered as merely organic. Thus, teaching Winnicott in continental China today became to us a great  and surprising laboratory to test and develop Winnicott’s ideas.

The positive reception of our work resulted in significant institutional developments. In 2016, the Chinese Winnicott Association was created at the Beijing Huilongguan Hospital and is now a member of the International Winnicott Association (IWA), as are the Winnicott Group of Shanghai University and the Beijing Mental Health Facilitating Center. The latter provides much appreciated assistence in the organization of courses at the Huilongguan Hospital, since 2014. It is worth mentioning that this Center has proposed another learning activity of particular value to the IBPW: the implementation of a Sino-Brazilian full training course in Winnicottian psychoanalysis, on the same basis as it is taught at the Winnicottian School of Brazil, aimed at professionals from different regions of China, with the objective of preparing future trainers in Winnicottian psychoanalysis. We hope that this course, which began in 2017 and is now well under way, will provide a first class of therapists able to teach Winnicott’s theory and practices in different environments, in learning and research centres, giving continuity to our work and thereby ensuring the implementation and consolidation of Winnicott’s clinical work in continental China. 

The present book, D. W. Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes consists of the first part of my doctoral thesis, defended in 1998, at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP), entitled D. W. Winnicott’s theory of psychoses. At about that time, a research group dedicated to the philosophy of psychoanalysis, in particular the thought of Donald Winnicott, started in São Paulo, under the guidance of the philosopher Zelijko Loparic, It was also on that occasion that I corrected and prepared this first part of the thesis, which was about Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes, for publication. The book was published for the first time in Brazil, in 2003, by the publisher Imago. The very favourable reception by the Brazilian public led to its becoming a reference book in Winnicottian studies both in psychoanalytical institutions and in other organizations related to care and development, as well as academic institutions. The first edition, which had several reprints, was followed by a 2nd edition, in 2012, a 3rd, in 2014, and a 4th , in 2017 by by DWW Editorial. In 2012, the book was translated into Spanish with the title La teoria de la maduración de D. W. Winnicott and made available to the public in eletronic form. A translation to French is under way and, hopefully it will be ready by 2019. This highlights a growing international reception of the book and the research program that it follows. The English translation, entitled Winnicott’s Theory of the Maturational Processes was published in June 2016, by Karnac Books. It is on the English edition that the present Chinese translation is based. 

My hope, with the publication of this Chinese edition, is that its dissemination will fall on fertile ground also here in China, and will provide tools to professionals devoted to the treatment of people who suffer from maturational disorders, as well as to those who promote prevention policies in healthcare. The reason for my hope lies in the fact that the work was done by translators linked to the Beijing Mental Health Facilitating Center, who are experts in translating Winnicott’s texts to Mandarin Chinese. I also expect that, in making the overwhelming effort to find terms and expressions which correspond to those of Winnicott, this group will eventually create an accurate Winnicottian vocabulary, wich will support the future translation of Winnicott’s complete works and, thus, promote an accurate understanding of the therapeutical practices conducted, planned and recommended by him. 

Elsa Oliveira Dias


我很愿意为我的《温尼科特成熟过程理论》(Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes)这本书的中文版写一个序言。我有一个非常好的理由来写这个自序,因为这本书的中文版给了我一个机会,向中国的读者们介绍温尼科特思想的“支柱”(backbone)。




以这些术语所构想出的温尼科特成熟病理学(maturational pathology),对精神分析性和心理治疗性临床实践做出了一个基本贡献,进一步揭示了诊断的真正意义,并能有效地指导治疗师的临床工作。这些治疗师一定要有能力,知道病人在治疗关系中任何特定时刻的情绪性年龄,其目的是既要理解病人在治疗中暴露出的不成熟性,也要有能力在病人发展的各个阶段中帮助他们,包括在主要的依赖阶段。这个理论有助于我们对那些所谓的困难个案的治疗,而这些个案无法被传统精神分析覆盖。此外,这个理论可以容许我们在许多其他健康服务领域中重新思考治疗性程序,诸如成人精神病学,儿童精神病学,听力学(phonoaudiology),看护学,精神病学社会性服务,职业治疗等领域,也能指导从事促进成熟性发展照顾工作的社会工作者和教育工作者。最后,这个理论对所有涉及到预防保健政策的那些人是一种宝贵的贡献。



在巴西,我们的这些主张很顺利地就被一群非常高素质的专业人士认可并接受了,由此也促成了一些学术机构的成立,特别是在2003年成立的圣保罗温尼科特中心(CWSP),以及2005年成立的巴西温尼科特精神分析学会(SBPW),这些学术机构的目标都是促进温尼科特思想研究领域中的教学、研究和出版工作。我们创建了温尼科特学派精神分析培训课程(Training Course in Winnicottian Psychoanalysis)来实施教学,稍后为了包含由温尼科特所实施或构想的其他临床实践形式,这个培训课程有所扩展。扩展后的新课程被称为温尼科特学派培训课程(Winnicottian Training Course),目前由巴西温尼科特精神分析学院((IBPW,2015年成立)负责实施教学。目前,已经有一系列致力于温尼科特思想和临床的研究逐渐展现出来,这些研究分别是由巴西国内和其他一些国家的几个温尼科特学习与研究小组负责实施。巴西温尼科特精神分析学会(SBPW)的DWW 编辑部还负责实施了与研究相关的一些出版工作。由巴西圣保罗温尼科特学派所做的这一系列成功的和创新性活动,已经受到了国际同行的关注,因此2013年在巴西圣保罗,我们成立了国际温尼科特协会(International Winnicott Association,IWA)。


我的这本书之所以能够在中国翻译出版,背后有着一个幸福和成功的故事。那是在2013年,我和我的丈夫,哲学家Zeljko Loparic,去中国旅行。当我们旅行至美丽的北京时,北京回龙观医院怡康心理诊所的凌笋昂医师,邀请我们为他的精神科医师和心理治疗师同事讲讲温尼科特,从这时起,一切就开始了。于是,我们在北京怡康心理诊所与中国的同行们举行了一个小型研讨会,之后我为他们督导了一个边缘性人格的案例。在中午吃饭期间,赵丞智医师询问我们,有没有可能在北京回龙观医院发展出一个关于温尼科特精神分析的连续培训项目,以便在中国推广温尼科特的思想和实践形式,提高中国大陆临床心理咨询师的水平。当时,我和我的丈夫都认为这是一个可行的提议。回到巴西之后的6个月内,在赵丞智医师的帮助下,我们一起为中国大陆的专业工作者设计了一个三年六期的连续培训项目,每年在北京的五月和十一月飞行集训两次,每次五天,上午理论课,下午个案督导,这就是第一届中国-巴西国际温尼科特精神分析取向心理咨询师连续培训项目。2014-2016年我们圆满地完成了第一届培训项目。从2017年开始,我们重新设计了这个培训项目,改成了四年连续培训,二年基础班,二年提高班,以适应来自于中国广大的各个不同地区学员的实际需求。也是从2017年开始,在北京温尼科特学习和研究小组和北京曼陀海斯心理咨询中心的帮助下,我们把巴西温尼科特精神分析学院的四年学院制温尼科特学派培训课程引入到了中国,这个课程在中国大陆被称为“国际温尼科特协会精神分析师中国候选人培训项目”,每两年招生一次,每次招15-20人,目前已经招了二届,目的是培养中国大陆的温尼科特思想和实践的专业人员。




目前将要以中文翻译出版的这本书,《温尼科特成熟过程理论》(D. W. Winnicott’s theory of maturational processes),是由我的博士论文的第一部分组成。我的博士论文题目是“温尼科特的精神病理论”(D. W. Winnicott’s theory of psychoses),1998年在巴西圣保罗罗马天主教大学(PUC-SP)完成答辩。大约在那个时候,在哲学家Zelijko Loparic教授的指导下,一个致力于精神分析性哲学研究的小组,特别是针对温尼科特思想的研究,开始在巴西圣保罗出现;也是在那个时候,我修订了我的论文的第一部分,并准备出版成书,其内容是关于温尼科特的成熟过程理论。这本书在2003年首次由巴西Imago出版社出版了葡萄牙文版本。巴西公众非常喜欢并很快就接受了这本书的内容,以至于在各个精神分析学院,和其他与人类照护和发展相关的组织机构中,以及学术机构中,本书成为了温尼科特思想研究的重要参考资料。本书第一版很快售罄,随后又重印了几次,之后巴西温尼科特精神分析学院的温尼科特出版编辑部,在2012年出版了本书的第二版,2014年出版了第三版,2017年出版了第四版。2012年,这本书被翻译成西班牙文出版,并同时以电子版的形式呈现给了西班牙文的公众。目前本书的法文版正处在翻译中,有望在2019年出版。这些现象都说明本书正在逐渐地被国际同行和读者所接纳,紧跟着就会是一些研究项目的到来。2016年6月本书由英国Karnac图书出版社发行了英文版,书名是《温尼科特成熟过程理论》。目前即将出版的这本中文版是基于英文版翻译过来的。


Elsa Oliveira Dias

(赵丞智  翻译)


I would like to emphasize that this edition would not have been possible without the effort and determination of Dr. Zhao Chengzh, who, believing this work to be useful for Winnicott’s teaching in China, promoted and coordinated the work of translating the book, having taken charge, himself, much of the translation.

I am very grateful to everyone who was under his direction – Dr. Ling, Kevin, Thomas.

I also want to express my gratitude to my publisher, Yan Lan, for all the technical, linguistic and aesthetic care that she has given to this Chinese edition.

I am also grateful, and very especially, to Kevin for having undertaken, with enormous dedication, the revision of parts of the text that required extreme skill in balancing fidelity to the text and understanding to readers of Chinese language and culture.