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Rudnytsky, P.L. (1989). Winnicott and Freud. Psychoanal. St. Child, 44:331-350.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 44:331-350

Winnicott and Freud

Peter L. Rudnytsky, Ph.D.

All this while you have been steadily doing psychoanalysis, not chopping from case to case, but 'bearing it out even to the edge of doom.'

AS ANDRÉ GREEN HAS OBSERVED, "WINNICOTT'S ORIGINALITY OF thought and his originality as a person were inseparable" (Clancier and Kalmanovitch, 1984p. 139); and, in this essay, I approach the connections between Freud and Winnicott in both biographical and intellectual terms. I begin by taking the contrast between the attitudes toward religion held by Freud and Winnicott as a point of departure for a selective, but I hope suggestive, comparison of their personal histories. I then turn to the domain of ideas and show how Winnicott's meditation on the mother-child bond leads not only to a recasting of psychoanalytic theory but also to an account of culture as a whole. A brief conclusion juxtaposes Winnicott's optimism and Freud's pessimism to draw together the biographical and the theoretical threads of this discussion.


Clare Winnicott told of one Sunday when Donald as a boy walked home with his father from church and asked him about religion. Frederick Winnicott replied: "Listen, my boy. You read the Bible—what you find there. And you decide for yourself what you want, you know. It's free. You don't have to believe what I think. Make up your own

Assistant professor of English and comparative literature, Columbia University, and 1988-89 Fulbright Western European Regional Research Scholar.

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