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It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found. Winnicott.


It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found – D. W. Winnicott


I often think of this quote from Winnicott when I meet people who are hidden or very well defended, usually both from themselves, and me, and the rest of the world, and at the same time really sad about it.  We all strive to be found, to be seen, as infants, as children and as adults. Hiding is a strategy that we have found to be effective in taking care of ourselves, yet like children playing hide and seek, we long to be found.  There is nothing worse than hearing the game going on around you and feeling that nobody cares enough to come and find you.


We all seek relationships with others where we feel that we are recognised and valued for ourselves. This is an ordinary human response. However for those who have not been recognised as children or feel they have never been seen, it can be a both terrifying and alluring possibility.  I often meet people in my practice who seem to live this tension- they long to be recognised, to be held, as Winnicott would have said, and yet somehow, can’t bear the thought of that. Some of the most powerful moments in psychotherapy are when that happens, when the two people in the room are able to really see, and be seen by, each other. Stern and others talk about these as ‘moment’s of meeting’ and suggest that these moments can have a profound impact.


What psychotherapy ideally offers, in this context, is a safe place where people can explore these tensions and become able to allow them selves to be ‘found’, maybe for the first time in their adult lives. This process can be quite liberating. It supports a sense of the possibility of growing into yourself, of moving nearer to who you know you are somewhere inside and letting someone else see that for a moment. I know that for myself that moment of discovering something about myself in the company of a trusted other, is both  profound and liberating. Most importantly i think it supports me to continue to be myself.


D W Winnicott - Playing and Reallity

D Stern The Interpersonal World of the Infant.