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The Negative Transitional Object: A Winnicottian Model of Addiction and Recovery

  • PPSC 80 5th Ave, 1408 New York, NY USA (map)

"The Negative Transitional Object: A Winnicottian Model of Addiction and Recovery"

David Pauley, LCSW

Clinicians today have a range of theories at their disposal to understand the complex dynamics of addiction, from the “disease” model to neuro-biological approaches to the self-medication hypothesis. This talk will lay out another such lens, a variation on Donald Winnicott’s classic theory explaining the emotional function of the security blankets and Teddy Bears of infancy. The negative transitional object, like the good transitional object about which Winnicott writes, is a creative adaptation to challenges that confront all children and adults: the startling fact of separation from other bodies; the continual need to integrate our moment-to-moment experience as minds and bodies in symbolic form; and the drive to self-regulate in playful dialogue with others.

Part theoretical overview, part hands-on clinical discussion, the talk will illustrate the concept of the negative transitional object as a developmental necessity carried over, in malignant and dissociated forms, in adult compulsions and addictions. Clinical illustrations and literary examples will be used to flesh out the concept.

DAVID PAULEY, LCSW is a Training and Supervising Analyst and member of the faculty at the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Study Center, and also teaches in the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program at the William Alanson White Institute. As an Adjunct Assistant Professor, he taught for a dozen years at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. His paper introducing the negative transitional object appeared in Psychoanalytic Dialogues in April 2018. He maintains a private practice in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, where he works with adults, adolescents and children, and also offers group and individual supervision to clinicians at all levels of practice.

*This talk has been approved by New York State for 2 hours of Continuing Education Credit for LMSWs and LCSWs.

Please note: A $5 surcharge will apply for those paying at the door, but we suggest buying your ticket in advance as the event may reach capacity before the date of the presentation.

For a refund to a PPSC Annex event, we must receive cancellation notice 7 days prior to the event. Please contact if you want to cancel within this time frame.

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Later Event: October 5
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