Winnicott & Religion

Here is a new book written by Stephen Parker, an expert on all things Winnicott (not to mention personality theory, Wesleyanism, and probably a lot of other topics as well). Steve is a colleague of mine here at Regent, and I know he has been working on this particular project for awhile. I’m excited to see it come to fruition.

Here are three reviews:

Dr. Parker’s book is a truly “playful” exploration of the impact of Winnicott’s Wesleyan upbringing on both the form and content of his thought. Dr. Parker does an excellent job “finding” and “creating” the intersections between Wesleyan theology and Winnicott’s theorizing while staying true to both. The book continues recent research detailing how theology has provided important underpinnings for psychoanalytic thought. Even though Winnicott may have “grown up out of” religion, Parker demonstrates that psychoanalysis for Winnicott was not simply a secular version of religion, but that Winnicott did remain religious in his own way. This book will be of great interest to psychologists interested in the relationship between theology and psychoanalysis. — Brad Strawn Ph.D,

Stephen Parker’s Winnicott and Religion is the most detailed account to date of the role of religion in Winnicott’s life and work. Through a painstaking and comprehensive survey of Winnicott’s evangelical upbringing in the Wesleyan Methodist tradition, Parker uncovers an “implicit theology” at the heart of Winnicott’s clinical thinking. Elaborating on previous accounts of Winnicott’s “lingering religiosity,” Parker takes things further in delimiting what amounts to a “journey of the soul.” The argument works free of Freud’s view of the religious life through an integrated pattern of biography, exegesis, and critical evaluation that culminates at the intersection of Wesley’s imago Dei and Winnicott’s true self. An important revaluation of Winnicott from the standpoint of a Wesleyan Methodist piety, the book nonetheless reveals a familiar figure in English psychoanalysis committed to speaking out freely. — Steven Groarke

Displaying an impressive familiarity with both primary and secondary sources, Stephen Parker offers a comprehensive assessment of the enduring impact of Winnicott’s Wesleyan Methodist heritage on his life and work. This book is at once an important contribution to Winnicott scholarship and a thoughtful intervention in the ongoing debate over whether it is possible to reconcile psychoanalysis with any form of religious belief. — Peter L. Rudnytsky

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