Donald Winnicott

Donald Woods Winnicott (1896 - January 28, 1971). Born in Plymouth, Devon, England, to a prosperous middle-class Methodist family; the son of Sir Frederick (a merchant) and Elizabeth Martha (Woods) Winnicott. Married Elsie Clare Nimmo Britton (a psychoanalyst), in 1958.
He spent his childhood in Plymouth, then deciding to become a doctor, he began to study medicine at the Leys School followed by Jesus College, both in Cambridge. There was a hiatus to his studies while he served as probationer surgeon on a British destroyer in World War One. He completed his medical studies in 1920, and in 1923, the same year as his first marriage (to Alice Taylor), and got a post as physician at the Paddington Green Children's Hospital in London, where he was to work as a pediatrician and child psycho-analyst for 40 years.

Winnicott rose to prominence just as the followers of Anna Freud were battling those of Melanie Klein for the right to be called Sigmund Freud's true intellectual heirs. By the end of World War Two, a compromise established three more or less amicable groups in psychotherapy: the Freudians, the Kleinians and a "Middle" group, to which Winnicott belonged.

His career involved many of the great figures in psychoanalysis and psychology, not just Klein and Anna Freud, but many Bloomsbury figures such as James Strachey, R. D. Laing, and Masud Khan, a wealthy Pakistani emigre who was a highly controversial psycho-analyst.

Winnicott's treatment of psychically disturbed children and their mothers gave him the experience on which he built his most influential concepts, such as the "holding environment" so crucial to psychotherapy, and the "transitional object," known to every parent as the "security blanket." He had a major impact on object relations theory, particularly in his 1951 essay "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena," which focused on familiar, inanimate objects that children use to stave off anxiety during times of stress.

His theoretical writings emphasized empathy, imagination, and, in the words of philosopher Martha Nussbaum, who has been a proponent of his work "the highly particular transactions that constitute love between two imperfect people."

He died in 1971 following the last of a series of heart attacks and was cremated in London.


Winnicott, D.W. (1931) Clinical Notes on the Disorders of Childhood. London: William Heinemann.

Winnicott, D.W. (1941). The observation of infants in a set situation., Int. J. Psychoanal., 22:229-249.

Winnicott, D.W. (1942). Child department consultations., Int. J. Psychoanal., 23:139-146.

Winnicott, D.W. (1942). Review of The Nursing Couple., Int. J. Psychoanal., 23:179-181.

Winnicott, D.W. (1945). Primitive emotional development., Int. J. Psychoanal., 26:137-143.

Winnicott, D.W. (1949). Hate in the counter-transference., Int. J. Psychoanal., 30:69-74.

Winnicott, D. (1949). The Ordinary Devoted Mother and Her Baby. Nine Broadcast Talks., London: Private Distribution Only

Winnicott,D.& Khan,M (1953). Review of Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality., Int. J. Psychoanal., 34:329-333.

Winnicott, D. (1953). Transitional objects and transitional phenomena., Int. J. Psychoanal., 34:89-97.

Winnicott, D.W. (1955). Metapsychologic, clinical aspect regression psychoac. situation.., Int. J. Psychoanal., 36:16-26.

Winnicott, D. (1956). On transference., Int. J. Psychoanal., 37:386-388.

Winnicott, D.W. (1957). Mother and Child. A Primer of First Relationships., New York: Basic Books, Inc.

Winnicott, D.W. (1958). Collected Papers. Through Paediatrics to Psycho-Analysis., London: Tavistock Publications; New York: Basic Books, 1958; London: Hogarth Press and the Inst. of Psa, 1975; London: Inst of Psa and Karnac Books, 1992. Brunner/ Mazel, 1992

Winnicott, D.W. (1958). Review of The Doctor, His Patient and the Illness., Int. J. Psychoanal., 39:425-427.

Winnicott, D. (1960). The theory of the parent-child relationship., Int. J. Psychoanal., 41:585-595.

Winnicott, D.W. (1962). The theory of the parent-infant relationship: further remarks., Int. J. Psychoanal., 43:238-239.

Winnicott, D.W. (1963). Dependence in infant care, child care, psychoanalytic setting.., Int. J. Psychoanal., 44:339-344.

Winnicott, D.W. (1963). The development of the capacity for concern., Bull. Menninger Clin., 27:167-176.

Winnicott, D. (1963). Review of The Nonhuman Environment in Normal Development and in Schizophrenia., Int. J. Psychoanal., 44:237-238.

Winnicott, D. (1964). Review of Memories, Dreams, Reflections., Int. J. Psychoanal., 45:450-455.

Winnicott, D.W. (1964) The Child, the Family and the Outside World. Harmondsorth: Penguin; Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1987.

Winnicott, D.W. (1965) The Family and Individual Development. London, Tavistock Publications.

Winnicott, D.W. (1965). Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment. London: Hogarth Press and the Inst. of Psa; Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1965; London: Inst of Psa and Karnac Books, 1990.

Winnicott, D.W. (1965). Failure of expectable environment on child's mental functioning.., Int. J. Psychoanal., 46:81-87.

Winnicott, D.W. (1966). Correlation of a childhood and adult neurosis., Int. J. Psychoanal., 47:143-144.

Winnicott, D.W. (1966). Psycho-somatic illness in its positive and negative aspects., Int. J. Psychoanal., 47:510-516.

Winnicott, D.W. (1967). The location of cultural experience., Int. J. Psychoanal., 48:368-372.

Winnicott, D.W. (1968). Playing: its theoretical status in the clinical situation., Int. J. Psychoanal., 49:591-599.

Winnicott, D.W. (1969). The use of an object., Int. J. Psychoanal., 50:711-716.

Winnicott, D.W. (1971). Therapeutic Consulations in Child Psychiatry., London:Hogarth Press. & the Inst. of Psa; New York: Basic Books, 1971.

Winnicott, D.W. (1971) Playing and Reality. London: Tavistock Publications

Winnicott, D.W. (1974). Fear of breakdown., Int. Rev. Psychoanal., 1:103-107.

Winnicott, D.W. (1977)The Piggle. An Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of a Little Girl. London: Hogarth Press and Inst of Psa; Madison, CT: International Universities Press, 1977, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1980.

Winnicott, D.W. , Winnicott, C. (1982) Playing and Reality. London: Routledge

Winnicott, D.W. (1984) Deprivation and Delinquency. London: Tavistock Publications.

Winnicott, D. W.(C. Winnicott, ed.) (1986). Home Is Where We start From. Essays by a Psychoanalyst., New York/London: W.W.Norton; Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Winnicott, D.W. (1986) Holding and Interpretation. London: The Hogarth Press and the Inst of PSA; New York,: Grove Press, 1987; London: The Institute of Psycho-Analsyis and Karnac Books, 1989.

Winnicott, D.W. (1987) Babies and their Mothers London: Free Association Books; Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. Perseus Press, 1990

Winnicott, D.W. (1987) The Spontaneous Gesture. London & Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Winnicott, D.W. (1988) Human Nature. London: Free Association Books; New York: Schocken Books, 1988; New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1991.

Winnicott, D.W. (1989) Psychoanalytic Explorations. London: Karnac Books; Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Winnicott, D.W. (1992) The Family and Individual Development. London, Routledge.

Winnicott, D.W. (1993) Talking to Parents. Workingham & Cambridge, Mass: Addison-wesley. (1994) Perseus Press

Winnicott, D.W. (1996). Thinking about children., London: Karnac Books, Perseus Press (1996)


Rodman, F. Robert, Winnicott: Life and Work, Perseus Publishing (2003).