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Elmhirst, S.I. (1980). Transitional Objects in Transition. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:367-373.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:367-373

Transitional Objects in Transition

Susanna Isaacs Elmhirst


Winnicott's original definition of a transitional object was that it is inanimate, is endowed by the infant with special properties and is of value in the developmental task of acknowledging that Mother (or her breast) is alive, is not a physical part of the baby, nor yet its external possession.

I have tried in this short paper to show how a disservice has been done to Winnicott's original perception of the significance of transitional objects, by broadening the concept of transitional phenomena too far in a way which actually diminishes their value in understanding the growth of the mind. Further study and discussion is needed of the complex role of the baby's suck-rag, elucidation of which will be furthered by adherence to a more specific definition. Clinical material is present to illustrate this claim.

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