Vincenzo BonaminioJan 11, 2023
Playing at Work
Clinical Essays in a Contemporary Winnicottian Perspective on Technique
Vincenzo Bonaminio, the Italian psychoanalyst and ambassador to the Winnicottian tradition offers us a clinical feast in his new publication, Playing at Work: Clinical Essays in a Contemporary Winnicottian Perspective on Technique (Routledge, 2022).
At a moment when, as he argues, much writing in the field is driven by theory and theorizing, this book offers a veritable cornucopia of clinical description. Bonaminio shares his errors and his “almost but not quite” moments with patients. As such, he depicts the psychoanalytic quotidian—the bread and butter, the unexceptional, and the boring that make up most of the clinician’s day—and does so with humor and intelligence.
He also shares with us the impact Winnicott has on his thinking in the consulting room and that impact is nothing less than total, from hill to vale. It is interesting to witness what immersion in a way of clinical thinking looks like clinically, and it is hard to discern where DWW begins and Bonaminio ends. It seems he has integrated the entirety of the oeuvre—and not just his more popular ideas like the transitional object, the good enough mother, or hate in the countertransference—yet his own idiom shines through. And in this interview—conducted a bit in Italian and mostly in English—he shows us his way of being with patients as he tells us stories about the people who frequent his office.
He challenges us to rethink the notion of confidentiality as well. When you read his cases you can sense that he is not altering identifying details about his patients and so there is a believability at the heart of what he is sharing. Bonaminio takes responsibility for doing as such and shoulders the risk for his rendering of a case, seeing it as reflecting something about himself as an analytic worker. His concern about the paucity of clinical material being presented in the field made me wonder about the impact that functioning in a litigious society, which embraces privacy like a patient embraces his symptom, is having on our thinking, our work, and what we feel free to share with each other?
Tracy Morgan is the founding editor of New Books in Psychoanalysis and a psychoanalyst in private practice in NYC and Rome where she sees individuals, couples and groups. She is also a member of the faculty at the Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies in NYC.