Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Winnicott, Donald Woods, and Religion

  • Kathryn MaddenEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_854

Being and the Feminine Ground

Winnicott grounds his theory on the female element of being as the center of gravity in the relationship between mother, child, and environment. “Holding” is important in that it helps the baby to integrate experience and prepares the foundation for what becomes a self-experiencing “being.” Holding, for Winnicott, refers to the mother’s capacity for identification with her infant as well as the literal physical holding of the child – feeding, bathing, and dressing – in the phase of “absolute dependence,” which includes the mother’s empathy, touch, and attentiveness to the infant’s sensitivity to falling.

Winnicott also believes that the mother should embrace the infant figuratively in her own being to prevent holding from becoming a mechanical act. Without this experience of being, the infant can feel quite empty. The baby may experience unthinkable anxiety, primitive agonies, or the experience of falling and annihilation. The baby’s subjective experience...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute for the PsychotherapiesNew YorkUSA