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Parker, S. (2009). Scriptural Allusions in the Writings of D.W. Winnicott. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(4):597-612.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(4):597-612

Scriptural Allusions in the Writings of D.W. Winnicott

Stephen Parker, Ph.D.

D.W. Winnicott, who perhaps is best known for his work on “transitional objects and transitional phenomena(Winnicott, 1951b), once described his religious background as being “brought up a Wesleyan Methodist” (Winnicott, 1968a, p. 142). Wesleyan Methodism was part of the nonconformist religious tradition in Britain, and one that would have emphasized knowing the Scriptures (Hettzenrater, 1995; Semmel, 1973). Although Winnicott described himself as “growing up out of church religious practice” (Winnicott, 1968a, p. 143), there nevertheless remained a religious dimension to his life and work (Goldman, 1993; Hoffman, 2004).

Goldman (1993) has argued that despite Winnicott's obvious psychoanalytic perspectives regarding the nature of religion there remained a “lingering religiosity” in him (p. 115). According to Goldman, the sources of this lingering religiosity lie in Winnicott's nonconformist background and its influence on both the “form” and “content” of his writing (p. 122). He suggests that this lingering religiosity can be seen both in the way some of Winnicott's central concepts (e.g., “holding” and “personalization”) seem close to religious categories, and the way in which religiously oriented concepts (such as toleration for differences of conviction) are given secular expression in Winnicott.

Goldman (1993) has further noted the wide range of literary and intellectual influences on Winnicott's ideas, many of which go without specific citation.

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