A Summary of Donald W. Winnicott Article: The Manic Defence [1935]

winnicott-from-bellespics-eu A Summary of The Manic Defence [1935]

Winnicott begins, there is a vital distinction between one’s fantasy and one’s inner reality. At first, they may seem similar, however there is a large distinction between the two. Furthermore, fantasy is actually a defense against the inner reality and its anxieties. Fantasy, according to Winnicott, is the initial manifestation of the manic defense to escape inner reality towards the outer reality. “The flight towards reality.” The nature of fantasy is that of the wish and desire to control and manipulate reality. Thus, avoiding internal reality and its components is fantasy’s first mission. Mania and its relationship with external objects helps avoid any concentration and awareness of ones internal reality. Consequently, the more tolerable the inner reality becomes the less mania one needs to be. One can decrease their obsession with external object when one feel inner-peace. Mania and a peaceful-inner-reality have an inverse relationship.”The flight to reality,” is coupled with the denial of an inner and unconscious phanatasy world. This denial can be either a total unawareness of the internal reality or it can be perceived as a split off inner-life that doesn’t belong to its self. Thus, Winnicott explains, the inner-life becomes projected onto others in order not to acknowledge it as part of one-self. However, when an individual is forced to acknowledge his/hers inner realities, and is not able to do so, the individual will deaden his/hers inner world. Winnicott calls this process, “Suspended animation.”  Winnicott defines mania with a term ‘ascensive’ which means upward or phallic. Mania is a form of looking upward or outside because of the internal pain. Symbolically, Winnicott asserts, mania can be seen in the enjoyment of balloons and airplanes. The concept of resurrection is also a form of phallic and standing upward, according to Winnicott. The erected penis and masculinity can be symbolic form the manic defense. Ascensive is in direct opposition to the depressive-gravitated-subjective-position, which requires introspection and subjectivity. References Winnicott, D. W.,The Manic Defence[1935]; Through Pediatrics To Psychoanalysis: Collected Papers, 1958; New York: Basic Books, Inc.

3 thoughts on “A Summary of Donald W. Winnicott Article: The Manic Defence [1935]

  1. Nice blog…Winnicott is great! “We are our new idea; it permeates our being. Held in its containing presence…its possibility inspires us, makes us feel life. It dwells in us and we in it, just like the prayers of congregants…”
    ~Ann Bedfor Ulanov
    From the book: Finding Space: God, Winnicott and Psychic Reality

    1. Thank you so much and taking the time to read and comment. I think Winnicott’s concept of manic defense is common among us in the sense that we avoid staying with out inner-reality and get preoccupied with the external reality.

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