Sexuality in Winnicottian Thought

6:00PM – 9:00PM
John Adams Hall, 15-23 Endsleigh St, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0DP

Neither British object relations in general nor Winnicott in particular is immediately associated with a major clinical focus on sexuality and its place in human difficulty & disturbance. And yet, Winnicott’s attention to sexuality – specifically, infantile sexuality – links his ideas inextricably with Freud and to a psychoanalysis located in the drives. Winnicott’s views on sexuality particularly draw attention to the fact that infantile sexuality gains significance only after a baby comes to a realization of a world outside itself; and the limits imposed by that world. At this practically oriented seminar which would be especially relevant for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and psychologists, Professor Lesley Caldwell helps us comprehend:


  • Winnicott’s overall account of human subjectivity
  • His clinical vignettes of psychosexual development and
  • His choices in approaching this material


Overall, the seminar argues for our attention as therapists to sexuality and its manifestations in the consulting room.


Lesley Caldwell is Honorary Professor at the Psychoanalysis Unit, UCL where she teaches and supervises on the Masters and doctoral programmes while coordinating the Unit’s Interdisciplinary programme. She is a psychoanalyst in private practice and former Chair of the Winnicott Trust (2008 to 2012). As editor of the Winnicott Studies monograph series for the Squiggle Foundation (Karnac), she produced four volumes: Art, Creativity, Living (2000), The Elusive Child (2002), Sex and Sexuality Winnicottian Perspectives (2005), Winnicott and the Psychoanalytic Tradition (2007). With Angela Joyce she is the author ofReading Winnicott (Routledge, 2011) and General Editor, with Helen Taylor Robinson, of the Collected Works of Donald Winnicott (OUP, 2015).


Seminar Schedule


6:00PM: Session 1:

The beginnings of self: an introduction


In this first session of the evening, we discuss:


  • Winnicott’s account of the acquisition of the self
  • his insistence that sexuality assumes the central place ascribed to it by Freud only after the child’s rudimentary awareness of the beginnings of self


6:45PM: Session 2: Infantile and childhood sexuality 


Building on our comprehension from Session 1, we look at clinical examples from Winnicott’s case vignettes and discuss how these illustrate:


  • the sexuality of the child and the importance of the relationship with parents
  • how childhood history is formative of the child’s internalization of sexual impulses


7:15PM: Coffee Break

7:45PM: Session 3: Adult sexuality 

In this session, we focus on an extract from the extensive case history ‘Holding and Interpretation‘ and consider:


  • the use of interpretations that focus on the Oedipus complex and
  • Winnicott’s patient’s growing capacity to deal with relationships with real persons (and with his analyst as a real person)


8:15PM: Session 4: Winnicott & new family forms


Drawing on our understanding from previous sessions, the last session uses the Winnicottian approach in comprehending & working with with some of the ‘different‘ family forms and different reproductive possibilities our clients may be part of.


Clinical material for the sessions on infant and child sexuality and on adult sexuality will be made available.


9:00PM: Close




questions about the seminar? Call us at: + 44 20 3290 5622 or write


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