Between 1943 and 1962, D. W. Winnicott gave over 50 talks broadcast by the BBC. In these talks, given for parents (actually, primarily for mothers), Winnicott discusses what he has observed between mothers and infants and elaborates his theory of human development. Some focus on universal aspects of development, such as weaning and toilet training, while others reveal insights about human development drawn from specific cultural circumstances, such as the evacuation of children from London during the bombings of World War II. Many of the insights revealed in these talks are gathered together in his 1964 book, The Child, the Family, and the Outside World.
In association with the recent release of Winnicott’s collected works, some of these broadcasts have become available through the Oxford University Press.
In the first, “A Man Looks at Motherhood,” his respect for mothers, humility, and ability to speak plainly and directly is immediately apparent. In these first few sentences, you already get a sense of his voice:
To begin with, you will be relieved to know that I’m not going to be telling you what to do. I’m a man, and so I can never really know what it is like to see wrapped up over there in the cot a bit of my own self, a bit of me living an independent life yet at the same time dependent and gradually becoming a person. Only a woman can experience this, and perhaps only a woman can imagine this.
If you want to hear more, the following links take you to Winnicott’s audio broadcasts: