"Winnie-the-Pooh Characters as States/
Positions-of-the-Self in Christopher Robin"
An Essay By Alvin Bennett
|While attending a psychoanalysis seminar on Winnicott, and his ideal of 'transitional objects/phenomenon'(1951), I realised that the main characters in the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' stories could easily be explained as states/positions-of-the-self for Christopher Robin's developing ego/self. A 'transitional object' is an object like a teddy-bear/blanket that comes to provide a bliss-full space/feeling in the developing ego of an infant like Christopher Robin. These facets of his developing ego/self come to constitute his personality. The personality is the all-encompassing term for the way the positions-of-self relate to each other. The summary of the work is that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' stories are heavily dependent upon Christopher Robin's own interpretation of why and how the characters like 'Tigger', 'Piglet' 'Eeyore', and 'Winnie-the-Pooh', all come to relate with him and to each other through him in his mind. |
These original characters were toys, given as Christmas presents to him by his parents. Like any child, Christopher Robin has a mind that wants to develop. The development depends on a contigual relationship between his internal world, and the external world. The internal world is the dynamics of relations between different feeling states. The external world is everything that exists in the real external world, and is important and related to his welfare, like mum, dad, feeling safe, and loved. As Christopher Robin is growing up, he sees how the world works, the social rules people must follow. Like dad going out-of-the-house to work, and mum taking on the role of being a mother and carer in the home. These social rules and norms guide the way that the dynamics of the internal world come to operate. The internal world feeling states come to act to the same rules that govern external world happenings. Unfortunately, social rules are full of 'can't have's', and 'don't do's'. This does not sit well with developing infants. They want to have and do what they want. The ambivalence that this situation creates, develops the ego, creates 'self' 'positions' that are good, bad, frustrating, bliss, anxious, traumatic, etc. These different feeling states, the positions of the developing ego/self come to represent the characters, or, I should say that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' characters come to represent the positions of the self in Christopher Robin.
Therefore, each 'original' character in the stories can come to represent a feeling state, a position of the developing ego/self. What we see when we read the stories is the internal workings of Christopher Robin's mind. The way the characters relate with Christopher Robin, and to each other, the way that each functions a particular psycho-dynamic of his (Christopher Robin's) internal world. This gives an indication as to how and why his internal world operates in the way it does. And how he feels about certain situations that happen in the real life external world. I would suggest that other characters in the stories, like 'Rabbit' etc, constitute the real external world objects that are necessarily needed in the internal world, so that the internal world can feel genuine. Like, rabbits are real, and they live in the real external world. For the relation between internal and external world to sustain a genuine quality in the mind (so that the internal world feels bliss-fully genuine to the infant)then certain characters like 'Rabbit' have to exist in both world's. That is, if a rabbit is real in the external world then the rabbit in the internal world, along with its relations to other characters in the internal world, must also be perceived to be real if the infant is to afford himself that bliss-full comforting feeling. here we can see an external world object(rabbit) being used to function the genuine-ness of the internal world. This psycho-dynamic is a typical function of a 'transitional object/phenomenon'. The facility of utilising a real world object and its relations to facilitate an internal world object and its relations shows Winnicott's 'transitional object/phenomenon' ideal in true colour.
This work is dedicated to my twin daughters Kimberley Bennett, and Stephanie Bennett, who live in Scotland. I am now back in my home town of Gainesville, Florida.
I was reading a 'Winnie-the-Pooh' story to my 7 year-old daughters' Kimberley and Stephanie one Saturday afternoon, because they love the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' stories. They asked me 'are they real'? 'Is what real I replied'; 'are they, the 'Tigger' and 'Winnie-the-Pooh' toys you bought us for Christmas, real'? I wondered what they meant by real. As I was thinking of how to answer my daughters I realised they had a look of wonderment and belief on their faces. I realised that they were in their own little imaginary world. I could not disappoint them by telling them that 'Tigger' and 'Winnie-the-Pooh' were only imaginary characters thought up by Christopher Robin. So I told them that 'If you believe they are real then they can be'.
This experience I had with my daughters seemed to replicate the actual story I was reading to them, as shown in this quote; "Wherever I am, there's always Pooh, There's always Pooh and Me. Whatever I do, he wants to do, where are you going to-day?" says Pooh: Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too. Let's go together," says Pooh, says he. Let's go together," says Pooh" (Milne, 1992 p.63). This short quote from A.A. Milne's 'Winnie-the-Pooh' story is of Christopher Robin saying a short poem, reflecting the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' character in his imaginary world. Then I thought how imaginary characters can afford such wonderment, and why it is that imaginary characters can afford such wealth of comfort and solace to my daughters in their imaginary world. Imaginary from the perspective that my daughters create these characters in their mind, give them personality characteristics, and animate them. And why doesn't my daughters realise that they don't exist like this in real life in the external world, but just in their minds.
It resembles a typical experience of how an infant can think that she is part of a conversation, a relational communication between separate people, yet not truly realise that the relational encounter is an illusion in her internal world1, and that they don't exist in the real external world. But what relation does 'Winnie-the-Pooh', and the other characters in the Milne stories have with Christopher Robin and his developing ego/self? The internal world, the workings of a child's mind, is baffling for most parents at the best of times. An appropriate explanation that can explain this phenomenon of an infants internal world can be explained well by using Fairbairn's model of the development of the ego, and self2. This is characterised in 'Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality' (1952), and illuminated by Winnicott's ideal of 'transitional Phenomenon' in the development of the infant's internal world/self, also, characterised in 'Transitional objects and transitional phenomenon' (1951).
This background material can bring into focus the ideal of an internal world in infants, while not aspiring to follow a clinical bent. The purpose is to give a literary exposition on theory discussing the idea of an internal world for the British Object-relations psychoanalyst's of Winnicott and Fairbairn. This can be done using the characters in the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' stories as tools of evidence, and ego-development models used by both Winnicott and Fairbairn. It is noted that Winnicott did not develop a structured theory of a model of the mind, rather he utilised Freud's; "he presents his ideas as built on Freudian foundations" (Gomez, 1998 p.100), but he did have a theory of ego development.
The argument is that the ideal of Winnicott's 'Transitional Phenomena', allies itself to Fairbairn's 'Endopsychic Structure' model of the developing ego/self, more plausibly than it does when tied to Freud's (1920) 'Tri-partite' model of ego development in the psychic apparatus, when explaining the internal world of Christopher Robin.
The aim therefore is that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' characters, which are hypothesised as reflections of emotional states/positions-of-the-self experienced by Christopher Robin, are personal self object-relation representations shown in his internal world. The 'Winnie-the-Pooh' characters are then thus reflections of Christopher Robin's developing states/positions-of-self, as shown in these characters. These characters also come to show a reflection the psycho-dynamics of his experiences in real life.
The rationale for bringing the evidence to bear is to allow parents and psychotherapists/psychoanalysts alike to recognise the acting-out of the positions of an infant's developing ego/self, presented from his/her internal object-relations, that can be seen in real-life performance.
The name 'Winnie-the-Pooh' is the name given to Christopher Robin's toy stuffed-bear he received for his first Christmas present from his parents. Christopher Robin named his toy bear after a real bear called 'Winnie' that lived at 'London Zoo', and a swan that Christopher was fond of as an infant, and would call 'Pooh'. An army officer brought the bear to London Zoo in 1921 from Winnipeg, Canada. And hence the bear is named after its origin. Christopher Robin's toy bear is named after the bear in the zoo, and he loves his bear dearly. He seems to treat it like a possession, literally dragging it everywhere.
Winnicott suggests that an infant utilises a 'not-me' object as a 'transitional phenomena' in the development of his ego. A 'not-me' possession in the case of Christopher Robin is his teddy bear, "objects that are not part of the infants body", (Winnicott, 1951 p.89). It is an object that exists in the external world. The external world is a preception the infant understands of the external world that suggest things happen like where dad goes to work, and mum looks after the children at home, until dad comes home from work and they all go to the park. Winnicott suggests that external world preceptions are utilised to reflect what happens in the internal world for the child and his relations to imaginary friends. Like where Christopher Robin talks to his bear and can imagine it talking back to him. We have all seen infants talking to their dolls as if the doll/bear was the child and the infant was the father/mother.
The infant has learned these preceptions from watching mother and father conduct and order the lives of the family. This is where real-life experiences form preceptions for the infant, used in the internal world relations that reflect the external world. So the semantics and context that orders the 'social-ness' of the external world, also orders the internal world in the child's mind. Upon watching the child talking to his bear, the bear is perceived in the external world as not really talking back to him by the witnessing parents. We as parents would say, 'but who are you talking to; there's no-one there', but in the infant's internal world, there is someone there.
This development and facilitation of internalised communication and illusion between infant and imaginary friends, dolls, or teddy bears, is described. "It is well known that infants ... tend to use fist, fingers, thumbs in stimulation of the oral erotogenic zones ...infants become fond of playing with dolls ... most mothers allow their infants some special object ... I have introduced the terms 'transitional object' and 'transitional phenomena' for designation of the intermediate area of experience, between the thumb and the teddy bear, between oral erotism and true object-relationship... yet are not fully recognised as belonging to external reality", (Ibid, p.89).
Winnicott's 'intermediate area' is concerned with the 'experiencing', and he 'stakes' "a claim for an intermediate state between a baby's inability and growing ability to recognise and accept reality ... I am therefore studying the substance of illusion", (Ibid, p.90). Although Winnicott describes the primary experiencing for a baby, for the purpose of this paper both Freudian/Winnicott and Fairbairnian theories suggest that infants' up to the age of six, experiences the internal world in the same functional mechanistic fashion as a baby. The illusion for the baby is experienced in the baby's/infant's internal world. A world where the infant creates illusions of 'fantasy', Winnicott (1971), and the infant does not yet realise that the teddy bear is not part of him.
The use of a 'possession', the external object, that is, the teddy bear, the cloth, the napkin, the handkerchief' (Ibid, p.90), allows the baby to form a comforting feeling/state within himself. The infant comes to possess the object by utilising this external object, (the teddy bear), to form an experiencing relation for the purpose of providing comforting, pleasurable feelings/states in his internal world. The infant does this by projecting good thoughts into the object. And then when the infant comes to want the good thoughts, he is comforted with his possession by introjecting the good thoughts into his self from his experiences with his possession, recreating the desired internal object-relation.
Many sensual triggers exist to cue these object-relational emotional representations in the internal world. The touch of the cloth of the bear, the smell of it, and the taste it can have can all trigger the emotive states. This may well be why we see young infants put nearly everything that they can get hold of into their mouths. They are practically investigating its properties, (smell, taste, and feeling); they may be looking for a relation of the object in the mind, via the senses. The phenomenon of the 'transitional not-me possession decreases the anxiety of the infant's transition from a state of being merged with the mother, (i.e. pre-natal), to a state of being in relation to the mother as something outside and separate, Winnicott (1951).
The successful use of the possession is necessary to achieve a balance in the development between the internal world and the state of dependency and want that is abound in external reality for the infant. In external reality the infant may want something, like being fed, or care, caressing, and attention, but the mother may not have time, or be there, to give it. This leaves the infant anxious, but wanting bliss. The possession is regarded by the infant as neither internal, (i.e., a mental concept), nor external (in that the object is not perceived to be a foreign entity, but as a possession belonging to the infant). The possession and the phenomenon are subjective towards the sought-after transitional phenomenon, which is, the required the state of bliss. Therefore, in the external world, the 'not-me' object is used as a possession by the infant to produce a state of bliss in the infant's self.
When Winnicott talks of the 'self' he is talking about the resulting feeling states that are housed in the psychic structure that grow and develop in a juxtaposition with the social-ness seeking of the internal objects. Winnicott never built a model of the mind, he utilised Freud's model, "he presents his ideas as built on Freudian foundations" (Gomez, 1998 p.100). The psychic apparatus is made up of Freud's ideal of the Id, ego, and the super-ego. It is just the Id, and the ego that exists for Freud and Winnicott when the baby is born, while the super-ego develops from the 'Oedipus complex' later in the infants development, (about six years old). The baby is originally a mass of Id instincts that wish to be gratified upon request. The post-natal traumatic and anxiety producing experiences of the infant, like not being fed on demand, feeling insecure about the cold surroundings of outside, hearing loud noises, and the like, makes the baby feel anxious, and feel traumatic. These experiences are new and different from the omnipotent feeling states that the baby held when situated in the mother's womb. The traumatic and anxious states provides the environment for the ego to develop, by attempting to have the traumatic and anxious feelings split-off and repressed.
For Freud, it is the unavoidable conflict of wish gratification and external reality of dealing with the traumatic conflict made present in the psyche of non-gratification and the repression of these wishes that develops the ego. In Winnicott, it is the anxiety producing external realities of non-gratification of the instincts that develops the ego. Similar in functional dynamics used in Freud's model.
Winnicott calls the start of an ego the 'primary central self'. The 'primary central self' is a 'potential' of feeling-states that exists for the infant in his mind. These feeling-states are recognised by the infant as concrete2, in contiguity with his mother. Like when the soothing feeling that the infant gets when the mother caresses him, or talks to him sweetly. This 'primary central self' goes-on to develop into the 'core self'. The core self is developed from series of states-of-mind that are experienced and developed from the infant's 'object-relations'. The infant's 'object-relations' are the internal and external emotional memories that were first constituted through the senses, and built upon by relative experience with his outer world, like crying to be fed, and then receiving his mothers breast, and then sating on the breast. And like the introjection of a desired state/illusion, from a not-me possession (teddy bear) is the useful facility of the transitional object in the intermediate area.
This duality of the physical experiencing and the psychical developing saw the progression of development of the ego/self, Ferenczi (1913), Winnicott (1951). Winnicott suggests that when the infant is born, "the infant's project was ... to inhabit his body ... [by the] localization of the self in one's body, ... [so much so that] The infant became aware of his own body through the development of his self, (Phillips, 1988, p.79). They become integrated3, which allows a personalization 4 of the infant's object-relations through realization5. What this means is that the infant, through his integration between his body and his psychic-self, comes to understand the world around him, his environment. His environment comes to make sense through a "psycho-somatic partnership" (Ibid, p. 79). This coming "to terms with each other ... was the developmental process" (Ibid, p. 79) for the normal healthy 6 infant through development. The infant, "at the very beginning, ... is in a condition of 'primary unintegration' ... he is, just a bundle of disparate feelings and impressions. He has, ... unifying experiences that come from without and within. [The] natural 'tendency to integrate' is made possible by the mother's care in which the infant is 'kept warm, handled and bathed and rocked and named', and also by 'acute instinctual experiences ... tend to gather the personality together from within ...-repeated over time, gather together 'many bits' of the baby into a person capable of being ... 'one whole being'", (Ibid, p.79).
So we can see that Winnicott believes that the infant's development of the self is initially dependent upon Freudian 'instinctual urges', Winnicott (1955), and then the relationship with the mother who helps to identify these instinctual urges by physically containing7 and mentally 'holding'8 the baby in his environment. Freud in Ferenczi also suggests that the maternal care helps to sustain the hallucinations. The mothers 'holding' facilitates the infants 'hallucinations', "Freud declares an organisation that is a slave to the pleasure principle, and which can neglect the reality of the outer world ... when one only takes into account the maternal care", (Ferenczi, 1994 p.218).
Therefore, Winnicott, Ferenczi, and Freud somewhat agree that the self is constituted through the contigual developing partnership of the psyche and the soma. The infant's developing self is dependent upon his caregiver, (usually the mother in Winnicott's writings), being a 'good enough mother'7. But when the mother is not a 'good enough mother', this could represent the formation of a 'false-self for the infant. The primary function of a false self is to protect the true-self.
A True self is when the infant develops through infancy under the circumstances of not being 'fragmented' by the aforementioned traumatic and anxious experiences. A 'false-self' is constituted when the baby fails to 'hold' himself in anxiety producing moments; when the caress and touch of the mother is not available, when the hunger becomes unbearable, the baby has to react in a way that defends himself from unintegration and annihilation. He attempts to conceal his 'true-self' from his inner world objects in his ego. In the trauma, and the formation of the false self, there is a real feeling for the baby of "going to pieces ... He may cover his 'true self' with a 'false self', hiding his fraught inner state behind an outward appearance of coping and compliance" (Gomez, 1998 p.89); Winnicott (1960).
Winnicott regarded the 'transitional phenomena/object psycho-dynamics of the infant as defensive towards the infant's psychic-self. So the internal world for an infant can be a defensive measure of the developing psychic-self that is comforting, healthy. A playground where only the infant goes, and the adults are left puzzled as to the world of mystique and adventure deep in the eyes of their infant.
Here the direct reflection of Christopher Robin's internal world with his bear in the external world can be seen as evidence. The character 'Winnie-the-Pooh' is represented in the infant's state-of-mind. It can be seen that 'Winnie-the-Pooh' bear can be used as a transitional 'possession'; that state of mind facilitating an 'intermediate area' for 'transitional phenomena'. The bear facilitates the 'intermediate area' for Christopher Robin to represent a desired object-relation of calm and comfort. This ideal is further supported when we look at the way Christopher Robin talks to his toy bear possession, "So wherever I am, there's always Pooh, There's always Pooh and Me. What would I do? I said to Pooh, 'If it wasn't for you, and Pooh said 'True' It isn't much fun for One, but Two Can stick together', says Pooh, says he. 'That's how it is,' says Pooh." (Milne, 1992 p.63).
A question that can be asked of now is that how do we know that these relations to Christopher Robin and his experiences with his toys are really his internal world experiences? It must be noted that Milne states clearly that Christopher Robin had 'given' the characteristics, and the states of innate feelings to these stuffed toys, "The animals in the [Pooh] stories came for the most part from the nursery. My collaborator had already given them individual voices, their owner by constant affection had given them the twist in their features which denotes character, and Shepard drew them, as one might say, from the living model." (Milne, 1939, p.11). Milne implies here that Christopher Robin, in his internal world, imagines these relations between his toys based on external world preceptions. This means that Christopher Robin is thinking-up all these characters for his toys such as 'Tigger', 'Piglet', 'Eeyore, and 'Winnie-the-Pooh'. So it can be seen that the evidence produced so far is that Winnicott's 'transitional phenomena/object', and his 'intermediate area', can facilitate the space for the 'fantasy' Winnicott (1971), to be enacted of internal world object-relations. Like the relation Christopher Robin has with 'Winnie-the-Pooh'. This supports the ideal that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' character in the books, is a reflection from Christopher Robin's internal world.
So far, it has been shown that Winnicott's 'transitional phenomena/objects, and 'intermediate area', can facilitate the space for fantasy to conjure up the relations that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' object for Christopher Robin. It is suggested in this paper that the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' stories can reflect the developing ego, and states-of-the-self within Christopher Robin. While we have looked at how the 'transitional object and intermediate area' accommodates internal world object-relations, we have not looked at Christopher Robin's internal accomplices, the other characters in the stories.
If we take the individual toys as characters of Christopher Robin's positions of self, then we can get an introduction to the personality states present for him at this point in his ego/self development. For instance, upon the introduction of 'Tigger' to the story, the fraught insecure 'Piglet' meets 'Tigger' for the first time, and feels threatened; "'Tiggers don't like honey' 'Oh!' said Pooh, and tried to make it sound regretful. ... Tigger could try some of Piglet's haycorns. ... Pooh explained that ... Piglet was a Very Small Animal who didn't like bouncing, and asked Tigger not to be too bouncy at first" [Upon Piglet meeting Tigger], "they knocked at the door of Piglet's house. 'Hallo Pooh, 'said Piglet'. 'Hallo, Piglet. This is Tigger. 'Oh, is it?' said Piglet and he edged round to the other side of the table. 'I thought Tiggers were smaller than that. 'Not the Big ones' said Tigger. ... Piglet pushed a bowl of haycorns towards Tigger, and said 'Help yourself,' and then Piglet got close up to Pooh and felt much braver, and said,' So You're Tigger? 'Well, well' in a careless sort of voice. But Tigger said nothing because his mouth was full of haycorns (Milne, 1992 p.53).
Piglet has represented Christopher Robin's relations to experiencing external objects with the same fraught-ness and anxiety producing behaviour he represents in his (Christopher Robin) internal world. 'Piglet' can be that fraught and nervous state/position that is reflected in anxiety producing moments. This can ally itself to Christopher Robin's state of false self. But this does not facilitate the other characters like 'Eeyore', 'Tigger', 'Kanga', 'Roo', and 'Owl'. Winnicott does not suggest that the defence mechanism of a false-self is multi-personality orientated. So how can all these different characters reflect the different states/positions in the self if the false-self is not multi-faceted towards personality? It can be so that Fairbairn's 'Endopsychic Structure' (1952, reprinted 1994) model of the developing ego/self can provide illumination of this question.
In Fairbairn's (1952) 'Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality', he outlines a libido theory which postulates that the normal development of the infant's 'Endopsychic Structure' utilises introjected objects and their relations as the principle vehicle for normal development. An endopsychic structure is the terminology given by Fairbairn to describe the developing mental apparatus; or psychic apparatus which is the term used by Freud. Where Freud posits that the 'Pleasure principle' Freud (1920), is the vehicle through which the libidinal aim finds cathexis of tension, Fairbairn suggests that it is the object-relations that is the vehicle through which the libidinal aim finds cathexis. Thus, the proviso for Fairbairn's model of the mind for ego in development is that the libido is object-seeking motivated by the need for a 'social-ness', rather than Freud's idea of the libido being instinctual pleasure seeking motivated by instinct gratification.
Fairbairn's mental apparatus is a society of internal objects that account for the mental life, conscious, preconscious and unconscious. Fairbairn thinks that the basic endopsychic structure is laid down in early infancy and then that structure is used subsequently to accommodate different states of the self. These differing states of the self come to form the personality.
The endopsychic structure is a defensive structure developed to maintain relations with other significant object-relations. Things like frustrations that cannot be tolerated are first split-off, and then repressed if intolerable. The repression of these frustrations leads into three object-relating dyads that form the norm' for the development of the endopsychic structures and the mechanics of their object-relationship's. Fairbairn suggests that the central ego splits-off frustration relations and they are repressed into a 'libidinal ego', or 'antilibidinal ego'. The difference depends upon the exciting qualities of the libido. Highly exciting (manic) in the libidinal, not very exciting (depressive) in the anti-libidinal. Each state of the object-relation has ambivalent qualities to it. The ambivalence facilitates good and bad positions that are available to the object and its relations. So there are a repertoire of different relationships and positions that are available for the self to inhabit or project, including both sides of any of these relationships in the endopsychic structure.
Freud's libido theory suggests that the libido is instinct gratified in the 'id' and ego but Fairbairn's libido theory suggests that the tension of the libidinal aim is discharged in the ego, not the unconscious id and ego. This means that the id is redundant for Fairbairn, and he has no place for it in his model of the development of ego in the endopsychic structure, (see appendix 1, for diagram 1). So a question has to be asked of the quality of the discharge, conscious/preconscious, or unconscious as in Freud, but this will be examined further on in the debating.
Freud suggests that the development of neurotic fixations like sucking, biting, and with-holding, is directly linked to the development of the infant moving through the erogenous stages of 'Oral', 'Anal', and 'Erotogenic'9 stages. Freud placed fixations to 'erogenous-zone stage' regression, so that the fixation is a facet of the stage when originally repressed, and depending upon the somaticism, the regression would fore-tell the stage and fixation. Freud also suggested that repression of anxiety is always unconscious, making catharsis a libidinal attitude of the system unconscious10. Fairbairn posits that the person does not 'regress', but is only playing out the object-relations that is constituted in the developmental period his mental apparatus is stationed at, so there is no regression for Fairbairn.
Fairbairn rejected the idea of a development associated with erogenous zones and had his own theory of development from infantile dependence through a transitional phase to mature dependence. People are in the transitional phase when trying to move from infantile to mature dependence. When they encounter internal objects that are relatively infantile, this is still normal development as the dependence is still in the transitional stage. It doesn't mean that the person has regressed, rather, it indicates the sort of object relationships, that was once internalised, which are now struggling to be represented. People work their way through this rising of the repressed selves in order to protect the ideal self. The move to mature dependence means the reduction of the strength of the repressed libidinal and antilibidinal selves that contain the relatively primitive and early relationships that couldn't be handled from the infantile period of growing up.
There is comparison between theories of development of the ego by a 'psyche-soma partnership, and the 'social-ness' ' between Winnicott , and Fairbairn. Fairbairn situated the development of the mind in the mind coupled with external object experiences, rather than in the time-line development of the physical body. The dynamic difference between Freud's and Fairbairn's theory is that Freud's theory situates catharsis of the libidinal aim in the erogenous zones, being time-line consistent with physical development. But Fairbairn's development is solely psychically generated.
The difference in theories lays in the 'active'-ness of the child. In Fairbairn, the child wants to actively seek catharsis through introjecting them and utilising the internal world to control his feeling states in his internal world. This theory is seen as 'positively active' compared to Freud's 'passive' theory. Freud suggests that the child passively accepts the unconscious repression within the realm of the system unconscious. This alludes to the child having no control over his internal world. This does not sit well with the theoretical ideals of Winnicott's transitional phenomenon, and the arguments of object-seeking libido in the internal world of Fairbairn's model.
The main difference here for the purpose of my argument is that with Winnicott's 'transitional phenomena' and 'intermediate area', the child 'actively' chooses to change his inner world by utilising external objects and their preceptions, into his ego and relates them in ways that he feels comfortable with. This has already been seen as evidence when Winnicott's 'transitional object' is accommodated and functioned in Christopher Robin's relationship with his toy bear in his internal world. The point here is that Winnicott ploys his ideals of ego development on Freud's instinct/pleasure-seeking model, but his ideal works better under Fairbairn's endopsychic structure model. The evidence again at this point supports Fairbairn's theory being the model that accommodates Christopher Robin's internal world of characters. The fact that the infant can facilitate the phenomenon of 'transitional objects' for controlling the internal world suggests that the discharge can be preconscious/conscious. Hence the 'active'-ness of the theory.
More support arrives from Guntrip. Guntrip (1975) suggested that Freud came to realise late on in his writing years that the internal world may well be object-related in motivation; "Freud had sought to explain all human motivation by reference to two innate instincts, the drives of sex and aggression ... it took Freud twenty-five years, ... to give up this physical theory ... Sex is better regarded as an appetite; and aggression, not as an innate drive ... but like anxiety, as an ego-reaction to threat ... to the personality", (Guntrip, 1975 p.12). Guntrip suggests that Freud may have been looking more closely at the evidence in relation to change his model, "Object-relations theory ... may be found in the work of Freud on the Oedipus complex and the phenomena of transference and resistance and in treatment" (Ibid, p.28). Therefore, we see that Guntrip has stated that Freud had 'given up' his 'instinct theory' to come more into line with the thinking of Fairbairn's 'object-seeking' ideal.
Therefore, it is safe to say that the libido is object-seeking motivated by the need for a 'social-ness', rather than Freud's idea of the libido being instinctual pleasure seeking motivated by instinct gratification. And the id can safely be redundant for Fairbairn. The question asked of the quality of the discharge suggests that because the repressed libido seeks to discharge in the ego, the quality can be conscious/preconscious, rather than unconscious. This also disagrees with Freud's model. The mental apparatus does not regress, the representing of internal relations are only the playing out of the prominent endopsychic structure available at that moment in time they are representing. Again, like Winnicott's transitional phenomena, the endopsychic structure present would depend upon the self's requirements, that is, what state is required by the infant, a comforting state, or an exciting state, etc'?
Taking one of Freud's own examples, the test can show which theory is more accommodating. For example, Freud's "oldest grandson", (Jones, 1961 p.505), and the 'cotton-reel' example of system unconscious sublimation11 for the short-term loss of his mother. The child would throw the cotton-reel away, but as it was attached to a piece of string, he was able to pull it back again. A sublimation was made of the cotton-reel for the mother. This, for Freud was the child utilising the function of bringing back the mother in his internal world as and when the child wanted.
Winnicott suggested that a young child can utilise an external object, like a cotton-reel, or a teddy bear, and replace its significance in his inner reality, utilising it by projecting into the object the good relations and introjecting the object's good relations to provide cathexis of the libidinal aim. The libidinal aim was to bring back his mother. In this particular example, the child utilises an external object, (cotton-reel), reconstitutes its value in his internal world, and utilises the new given properties to facilitate a comforting and soothing feeling/state. Ferenczi (1913), adheres to Winnicott's states of illusion and disillusion but he calls it "hallucination's that have to develop due to the non-appearance of the expected satisfaction. [This] led to the abandonment of ... the hallucinatory method. Instead, the psychical apparatus had to decide to represent the actual circumstances of the outer world and strive to alter reality" (Ferenczi, 1994 p.214).
It can be seen that the internal world of the 'oldest grandson' has been dominated by the internal object and its external relations for a particular purpose of cathexis. This further supports the phenomenon of 'transitional objects' for controlling the internal world, and that the discharge can be preconscious/conscious. It also ultimately raises doubts and shows the limitations of Freud's ego development theoretical model based on impulses, instincts, and stages.
While Fairbairn agrees with repression, he does not agree with Freud's function of repression. Fairbairn would suggest that for the 'cotton-reel' example, the anti-libidinal cathexis constitutes the repression. Therefore, the repression is still situated within the ego, the anti-libidinal ego albeit instead of the id. While the child knows that his mother has gone away, he also knows that he can change the feeling state of his inner world by repressing the 'bad' depressive frustrating object into the anti-libidinal ego. Thus because the psycho-dynamic operation is actively controlled and functioned by the infant's fantasy, the internal world objects and their control is conscious/preconsciously cathected in the ego as Fairbairn suggested, and not the id as Freud suggested. See Appendix 2, for diagram 2.
It may be true that the impulses contain the quality of a force that requires cathexis, but as a purpose of libidinal aim, they, the impulses, negate to show the function upon which cathexis is enacted. It becomes more plausible that the child's inner reality has utilised an introjected object and its soothing relation. This deduction of logic suggests that Freud's 'id' impulses are "orientated towards reality" (Fairbairn, 1994 p.89), which also supports Fairbairn's statement that the "libido is object seeking", (Ibid p.82), and his criticism of Freud's model is 'inherently flawed', Fairbairn (1944) is supported. At this point the deduced and well argued logic provides substantial support for the ideal that Christopher Robin's developing ego/self reflects the dynamics of his experiences in real life. Thus, so far, supporting Winnicott's transitional phenomena/object ideal, shown in Fairbairn's model, as opposed to Freud's model of the developing ego/self.
This would mean that the relationship between Christopher Robin and his internal world are states/positions-of-the-self, represented and shown in Fairbairn's model of the developing self. Each of the characters in the stories represents an aspect of Christopher Robin's developing personality and his repetoire of endopsychic structures. Each endopsychic structure is a state of emotion all to itself. And each of these characters represents a different configuration of his endopsychic structure played out in his internal world, and overtly shown in states of emotion.
For instance, if 'Winnie-the-Pooh' was Christopher Robin's central ego and Christopher Robin was 'Winnie-the-Pooh's' ego-ideal, then 'Tigger' would represent the partial ascendancy of the libidinal self in an unbridled and manic display of enthusiasm. 'Eeyore' would represent the internal world when everything was locked down tight and all the excitement (libidinal) and aggression (antilibidinal) was bound up in the internal structures. Piglet would represent anxiety when a fear of the antilibidinal self was operating. 'Kanga and Roo' would represent what he wanted from the mother-infant relationship but couldn't have, so the state here would be frustrating. The characters in the stories then tend to represent the whole self of Christopher Robin's repertoire of endopsychic structures. This is why we encounter a fairly confident but sometime naive central self who is sometimes accompanied by a nervous doubting self and sometimes in the company of a libidinal manic self that disturbs the homeostasis of the self. And the feeling state of frustration when he observes a mother-infant couple that he wants but feels he can't have.
In a quirk to the difference in models, Padel (1985) suggests that Fairbairn's model of the mind encompasses the ideal of Freud's 'Oedipus complex', (see 'modified' diagram 2). The child utilises the oedipal situation for the development of his psyche by reciprocal introjections and projections in the mother-infant relationship. Padel suggests that Fairbairn's endopsychic structure model of development of the infant's mental apparatus, effectively shows that Christopher Robin's internal world was born from his two-person object relationship with his mother. Padel specifically states that the infant gazes into its mother's eyes, and this is where all super-ego relations are borne from, "I have taken the nucleus of the super-ego to be the mother's eyes" (Padel, 1985 p.605). The infant introjects the relations to its objects, and also the semantics to these objects. The semantics are the super-ego connotations that are fixed, and come from the mother. This gazing into the eyes from infant to mother resembles the relationship that Christopher Robin has with 'Owl'. Calming, nurturing, clever old Owl has big eyes, and always knows the right thing to do.
Therefore in conclusion, the idea of an internal world is explained and accommodated better in Fairbairn's model of the development of the ego/self, than in Freud's. Fairbairn's model accommodates the facility of Winnicott's 'transitional phenomenon/object', and his 'intermediate area' in a manner that finds a complimentive synergy of qualitative theory. The 'intermediate area' for Fairbairn describes the space in the psychic order that is afforded to allow the control of the internal world objects. The internal world objects do come to represent semantic juxtapositions of the infants' external world experience to his object-relations, reflected in the internal objected relations, just like with Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin's positions of self, his developing personality states, are shown through the characters represented in the 'Winnie-the-Pooh' story-books.
This is an enlightening facet to recognise for any parent, and psychotherapist, psychoanalyst. Just as Winnicott had the 'squiggle' game for insight into the infants internal world, it can also be so that the reading and discussing of children's stories with our children, can facilitate a magic path into their internal world that we can witness the semantic nature to the infant's internal world. Parents are well placed to recognise this phenomenon. Indeed, for it is not just children who like children's stories. I have come to notice how child-like I become when reading these children's stories to my daughters. Ferenczi suggests that we all have links to our childhood past, and this is why we can relate with our children when we read to them, ... In fairy-tales, the phantasies of omnipotence remain the dominating ones. Just where we have most humbly to bow before the forces of Nature, the fairy-tale comes to our aid with its typical motives. In reality we are weak, ... in fairy-tales one is immortal ... sees the future and knows the past ... the fairy-tale, which grown-ups are so fond of relating to their children their own unfulfilled and repressed wishes, really brings the fortified situations of omnipotence to a last artistic presentation", (Ferenczi, 1994 p.239). Grown-ups like fairy-tales because it reminds them of their omnipotent past object-relations, their 'primary Maternal preoccupation', Winnicott, (1951). Also, for children, it helps to re-establish the focus of the omnipotent process in object relations, the illusionary process of state control; the 'transitional phenomenon', Winnicott, (1951).
The ideal of whether the model of the developing ego is instinct pleasure-seeking can finally be put into perspective when considering that Fairbairn's use and description in his endopsychic structure allows for the internal world to be shown through the eyes of object-relations theory, while Freud's model doesn't. Furthermore, as shown on page 2, preceptions are fundamentally 'social' because they are semantically ordered from a social context template. This allies itself more to Fairbairn's socially object-seeking theory than it does to Freud's instinct pleasure-seeking theory.
Penultimately, Fairbairn's endopsychic structure as a model constituting the psycho-dynamics of the mind and its object-relations, functions very well when accommodating Christopher Robin's characters as positions of his self. Freud's model does not attempt to show real life placations of experiences in any way that Fairbairn's does, as shown with Freud's own grandson. Freud's model appears illusively theoretical, lacking in practice and function when compared to Fairbairn's theoretical, practical, and functional model.
The serendipitous findings were that a question can be asked as to whether the libidinal discharge in Fairbairn's model is preconscious/conscious, or unconscious. It is well-texted that libidinal cathexis of the 'day's residues' is cathected in sleep when we dream, Freud (1900). However, it does not bear-down to have any significance to the outcome of the argument. The debating and examples shown in the body of the argument comes to deduce that as the repression is enacted from the central ego, and no contrary evidence exists to suggest that the quality of libido discharge is only unconscious, then there is no reason why the libido discharge cannot be preconscious/conscious, as in the example, and unconscious, as in dreams.
Bion, W. (1959), 'Attacks on Linking', (in), International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Volume 40, pp.308-305:
Fairbairn, R.W.D. (1941), 'A Revised Psychopathology of the Psychosis and Psychoneurosis', (in) Psycho-Analytic Studies of Personality, London; Routledge Publishers:
Fairbairn, R.W.D., (1944), 'Endopsychic structure considered in terms of object-relationships; Object relationships and dynamic structure, (in), Psycho-Analytic Studies of Personality, London; Routledge Publishers:
Fairbairn, W.R.D. (1994), Psycho-Analytic Studies of Personality, London; Routledge Publishers:
Ferenczi, S. (1994), 'Stages in development in the Sense of reality', (1913), (in) First Contributions to Psycho-Analysis, London; Karnac Books Publishers:
Freud, S. (1991), The Interpretation of Dreams, (1900), Penguin Freud Library Volume 4, London; Penguin Book Publishers:
Freud, S. (1991), 'FORMULATIONS ON THE TWO PRINCIPLES OF MENTAL FUNCTIONING', (1911), (in), On Metapsychology, Penguin Freud Library Volume 11, London; Penguin Books Publishers:
Freud, S. (1991), 'BEYOND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE'(1920), (in) On Metapsychology, Penguin Freud Library Volume 11, London; Penguin Books Publishers:
Frosh, S. (1999), The politics of psychoanalysis, an introduction to Freudian and post-Freudian theory, Basingstoke; Macmillan:
Gomez, L. (1998), An Introduction to Object-Relations, London; Free Association book Publishers:
Guntrip, H. (1975), 'MY EXPERIENCE OF ANALYSIS WITH WINNICOTT AND FAIRBAIRN', (How complete a result does psycho-analytic therapy achieve?), (in), International Review of Psychoanalysis, Volume 2 pp145-156:
Hinshelwood, R.D. (1989), A dictionary of Kleinian thought, London; Free Association book Publishers:
Jones, E. (1961), The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, (eds), Lionel Trilling and Steven Marcus, Hammondsworth Middlesex; Penguin Books Publishers:
Laing, R.D. (1967), The Divided Self; An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, Middlesex, England; Penguin Books:
Milne, A.A., (1939), AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 1st edition, New York; E.P.Dutton Publishers:
Milne, A.A. (1992), 'In Which We are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the story begins', Stories of Winnie-the-Pooh, London; Dean Publishers:
Padel, J, (1985), The Psychoanalytic Movement , 'Fairbairn's thought on the relationship of inner and outer worlds', (in), Free Associations, psychoanalysis, groups, politics, culture, Volume 2 pp.589-615:
Phillips, A. (1988), Winnicott, London; Fontana Press Publishers:
Rycroft, C. (1995), A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, (2nd Ed'), London; Penguin Book Publishers:
Winnicott, D.W. (1945), 'Primitive Emotional Development', (in), International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (1953), Volume 26; pp.137-143:
Winnicott, D.W., (1951) 'Transitional objects and transitional phenomenon, A Study of the First 'not-me' Possession' (in) International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (1953), Volume 34; pp.89-97:
Winnicott, D.W. (1955), 'Group Influences and the Maladjusted Child', (in), The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, London; Hogarth Press Publishers:
Winnicott, D.W. (1960), 'The Theory of the Parent-Infant relationship', The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment, London; Hogarth Press Publishers:
Winnicott, D.W. (1971), 'Dreaming, Fantasying, and Living' (in), Playing and Reality, London; Tavistock Publishers:
© 2001 Topher
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The language of Winnie-the-Pooh
On 6 November 1924, the world was first introduced to one of the most famous characters in children’s literature, Winnie-the-Pooh. When We Were Very Young, A. A. Milne’s first collection of children’s poems, was written for his three-year-old son, Christopher Robin.
When We Were Very Young became a bestseller, but it wasn’t until the publication of Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928, that Mr Edward Bear, as Pooh was first called, rose to fame. Over the years, Milne’s books have been translated into many languages, including Latin (Winnie ille Pu is the only book in Latin to have made the New York Times Best Seller List), and since publication, they have never been out of print.
The popularity of the Winnie-the-Pooh series is down to the characters, and the way in which Milne depicts them. The language he uses gives each character its own personality, its own voice, and its own set of unique traits, which have, I believe, ensured the lasting legacy of Winnie-the-Pooh.
A Bear of Very Little Brain
As Christopher Robin’s favourite toy, Winnie-the-Pooh is the protagonist of the series, and the subject of many of Milne’s poems. He is charmingly dim-witted, and refers to himself as ‘a Bear of Very Little Brain’, and if the situation allows, ‘a Bear of No Brain at All’. That said, he is aware that the other characters are more intelligent, and often thinks of them in terms of what they know and the words they use.
An interesting example is Owl, the elder of the forest, who is often consulted by Pooh in difficult situations because he is wise and ‘able to read and write and can spell his own name WOL’. He also has two signs outside his door, which Pooh finds deeply impressive, that read ‘PLES RING IF AN RNSER IS REQIRD’ and ‘PLEZ CNOKE IF AN RNSR IS NOT REQID’. When Pooh consults Owl to find out what the opposite of an introduction is, Owl tells Pooh that ‘the Opposite of an Introduction [is] a Contradiction,’ which Pooh assumes to be correct as Owl is ‘very good at long words’. In a child’s point of view, Owl is an appealing character because even a young reader could figure out that he is not as wise as he pretends to be.
Rabbit, on the other hand, has a quick wit and is never afraid to say what he is really thinking. In an exchange between Pooh and Rabbit in The House at Pooh Corner, Pooh asks, ‘Hello Rabbit, is that you?’, to which Rabbit responds, ‘Let’s pretend it isn’t. . . and see what happens.’ He also has a great feeling of self-importance, as displayed when he considers the other characters in the forest.
Christopher Robin depends on Me. He’s fond of Pooh and Piglet and Eeyore, and so am I, but they haven’t any Brain. Not to notice. And he respects Owl, because you can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn’t count. And Kanga is too busy looking after Roo, and Roo is too young and Tigger is too bouncy to be any help, so there’s really nobody but Me, when you come to look at it.
But when we look at Rabbit through Pooh’s eyes, we get a very different view of him. As with Owl, Pooh thinks of Rabbit in terms of the language he uses, and how complex his vocabulary is. Pooh thinks to himself that he likes talking to Rabbit because ‘he uses short, easy words, like “What about lunch?” and “Help yourself, Pooh.”’
Piglet, Pooh’s side-kick, thinks in much the same way as Pooh. He lives in constant fear of predators coming to attack him, as he is aware of his small size, and often makes comments like ‘It’s hard to be brave when you’re only a Very Small Animal’. But Piglet is also fiercely proud of his background, and what he lacks in physical size, he feels he makes up for in other ways. An amusing example is the sign outside Piglet’s house.
Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: “TRESPASSERS W” on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather’s name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn’t be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William.
Despite being a self-declared Bear of Very Little Brain, Pooh is quite a competent writer of ditties, or ‘hums’, as he calls them. As a writer of prose and poetry, Milne incorporates these hums into the text to add lightness to serious (by Winnie-the-Pooh standards) situations. When Pooh is walking through the snow, the following hum pops into his head:
The more it snows
The more it goes
The more it goes
And nobody knows
How cold my toes
How cold my toes
And when he loses his pot of honey, he sings the following tune:
It’s very, very funny,
‘Cos I know I had some honey;
‘Cos it had a label on,
A goloptious full-up pot too,
And I don’t know where it’s got to,
No, I don’t know where it’s gone—
Well, it’s funny.
Winnie-the-Pooh in the Oxford English Dictionary
Several of the words and character names coined by Milne in the Winnie-the-Pooh series have come into general use. The most prominent example is Eeyore. Although he is not one of the main characters, Eeyore’s gloominess is notorious in the stories. A typical exchange between Eeyore and Pooh occurs when Pooh says ‘good morning’ to Eeyore, and Eeyore responds, ‘good morning, Pooh Bear. . . If it is a good morning. . . Which I doubt.’ According to the Oxford Dictionary of Reference and Allusion, Eeyore’s temperament is so well-known that his name can be used to describe a pessimistic person, and the adjective ‘Eeyorish’ has roots dating back to 1992 in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Other characters have also made their mark on the English language. The first citation in the OED for ‘kanga’ is attributed to Milne, and the term is used in Australia today as an abbreviation for ‘kangaroo’.
The two most-feared predators in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories are heffalumps and woozles. Although ‘woozle’ never made it into the dictionary, ‘heffalump’ is in common use (there are far fewer mentions of woozles than heffalumps in the stories). Although Oxford Dictionaries define ‘heffalump’ to mean ‘a child’s word for “elephant”’, there is not explicit reference to this in the books, rather, it is only through Ernest H. Shepard’s illustrations that we know this (in The House at Pooh Corner, Piglet has a nightmare about a heffalump that Shepard depicts as an elephant).
But one of Milne’s most interesting legacies was the invention of Poohsticks. Whether or not they have read Winnie-the-Pooh, most children know the rules of Poohsticks, but fans took it to a new level in 1983 with the first World Poohsticks Championships. The competition has continued each year, and involves individuals and teams competing for the international Poohsticks titles in twelve different categories.
Milne’s second collection of poems for children, Now we are Six, was published in 1927, and written for Christopher Robin and his bear, Pooh. The last poem in the collection, ‘The End’ shows how they felt about being six:
But now I am Six,
I’m as clever as clever,
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.
I wonder what Pooh would say to being 88.
Photo credit: IgorGolovniov / Shutterstock.com
- The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.
Not just heffalumps and woozles: the words of A.A. Milne
If you’ve heard of A.A. Milne, there is almost certainly one reason ...more