childhood is body incarnate: a poetic-existential perspective in being a child


  • marina marcondes machado



This essay ponders notions of child psychoanalysis and relates them to the phenomenology of the quotidian and the phenomenology of ordinary adult-child relationships. The notions are: body image (Françoise Dolto, 1984) and the feeling of real (Donald Woods Winnicott, 1982; 1990). Dolto presents us the genesis of the child’s body concretude, naming the erotic zones as “places of the body” and revealing the human capacity for fantasizing. Meanwhile, Winnicott states that the feeling of real is something to be experienced, built and maintained alive by a fluxus of continuous care caring and relationships as well as the supply, on the part of the adult community, in providing “total experiences” in the child’s daily life. Searching for a hybrid theoretical vision between psychoanalysis and phenomenology, the author entwines the concepts in the light of the Sorbonne Courses, taught by Maurice Merleau Ponty in the mid 20th century. In this way, a third way forward may be engendered: a poetic-existential perspective for a child being, presented as something plural, which considers ways of being and inhabiting the space own body and surrounding space. This is a phenomenological comprehension of childhood – presented particularly in the reading of the dyad adultchild relations, in dialogue with Merleau-Ponty’s works about the human early life (The Sorbonne Lectures). This has led to relational attitudes, in which the adult develops his listening and acceptance towards the ways of being of a child, gives positive values to the phenomena of childhood and harmonizes with something that Winnicott has defined as a concomitant “presence and absence” state of mind. It is necessary to be there when it is needed, as well as to be gradually absent, so that the child can find out, on her own ways and rhythm: herself, the others and the things of the world, acting according to Winnicott’s conception called “the free and creative playing”.



How to Cite

machado, marina marcondes. (2016). childhood is body incarnate: a poetic-existential perspective in being a child. Childhood & Philosophy, 12(24), 455–468.