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Hoffman, M. (2004). From Enemy Combatant to Strange Bedfellow: The Role of Religious Narratives in the Work of W. R. D. Fairbairn and D. W. Winnicott. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(6):769-804.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(6):769-804

From Enemy Combatant to Strange Bedfellow: The Role of Religious Narratives in the Work of W. R. D. Fairbairn and D. W. Winnicott

Marie Hoffman, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysis has a well-documented history of antipathy toward religion. As a consequence of the postmodern shift in philosophy, however, there are those who, albeit cautiously, are attempting to approach religion with a renewed spirit of dialogue and inquiry as a narrative among many narratives that has informed and even enriched the development of psychoanalysis.

In this spirit of dialogue, the author traces the influence of early religious affiliations on two object relations theorists, W. R. D. Fairbairn and D. W. Winnicott. Fairbairn's early imbibing of Calvinist theology in Scotland and Winnicott's involvement in the Wesleyan church are detailed. The theological differences between these Protestant perspectives (which form counterpoints to one another) are clarified and the perspectives are positioned within the framework of British culture. These religious themes are then identified within the works of Fairbairn and Winnicott.

As a final consideration, the relational nature of the Judeo-Christian God, and the subsequent view of human life that flows from that theology, are posited as influential in the development of the relational shift in psychoanalysis. The author details the association between this shift and the seminal work of Fairbairn and Winnicott.

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