Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena – a Study of the First Not-Me Possession : 30th May 1951 (London) [1953] : Donald W. Winnicott

by Julia Evans on May 30, 1951

Based on a paper given at a Scientific Meeting of the British Psycho-Analytical Society on 30 May, 1951. A shortened version was distributed to members beforehand, and Dr Winnicott confined his remarks to the section ‘Illusion-Disillusionment’.


1) International Journal of Psycho-Analysis : Vol 34 : P31-97 : 1953

Available at  /Authors by date or authors a-z

Cited by Jacques Lacan

– Seminar IV : 28th November 1957 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here  for availability. :

Notes & references for Jacques Lacan’s Seminar IV : 28th November 1956 by Julia Evans on 2nd July 2017 : See here

Quote ECp8 of Seminar IV : 28th November 1957 : D.W. Winnicott. He wrote a little article to talk about what he calls the “transitional object”

See also

Donald Winnicott was present at Minutes of the meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association : 30th July 1953 : Dr Heinz Hartmann (IPA President & Chairman of the Meeting) : See here :

For a description of Jacques Lacan relationship to D. W. Winnicott see Lacan with D. W. Winnicott : 25th June 2011 (Dublin) : Joanne Conway or here

–   Reference [27] in The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan : Available here

p32 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation of DoT : Research into psycho-genetics and direct observations are far from being cut off from properly analytic inspiration. And in my own treatment of the themes of object relations in a year long seminar, I showed the value of a conception in which child observation is nourished by the most accurate reconsideration of the function of mothering in the genesis of the object: I mean the notion of the transitional object, introduced by D.W. Winnicott, which is a key point for the explanation for the genesis of fetishism [27].

Nevertheless, the flagrant uncertainties of the reading of the great Freudian concepts are correlative to the weaknesses that encumber practical work.

What I mean is that it is in proportion to the impasses encountered in grasping their action in its authenticity that researchers and groups end up forcing it in the direction of the exercise of power.

p72 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation, DoT : [27] Winnicott, D. W., “Transitional objects and transitional phenomena,” in IJP, XXXIV, 1953: 29-97.

Quoted from Sigmund Freud

P89 : In the case of some infants the thumb is placed in the mouth while fingers are made to caress the face by pronation and supination movements of the forearm. The mouth is then active in relation to the thumb, but not in relation to the fingers. The fingers caressing the upper lip, or some other part, may be or may become more important than the thumb engaging the mouth. Moreover this caressing activity may be found alone, without the more direct thumb-mouth union. (3)

(3) Cf. Freud: ‘Case of Dora’, Collected Papers, Vol. 3, pp. 63–64;

Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria (‘Dora’): 1901 : Sigmund Freud : Published See here

also Hoffer, Willi: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. III–IV, p. 51.

P93 : There is no possibility whatever for an infant to proceed from the pleasure-principle to the reality principle or towards and beyond primary identification (see Freud, The Ego and the Id, p. 14 :  The Ego & the Id : 1920: Sigmund Freud, Published by Richard G. Klein at and available here), (10) unless there is a good enough mother. (11) The good enough ‘mother’ (not necessarily the infant’s own mother) …

(10) See also Freud: Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, p. 65.

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud : published by : available here

(11) One effect, and the main effect, of failure of the mother in this respect at the start of an infant’s life, is discussed clearly (in my view) by Marion Milner, in her paper appearing in the Melanie Klein Birthday Volume, Hogarth Press, 1952, also this Journal, 32 (1952), p. 181. She shows that because of the mother’s failure there is brought about a premature ego-development, with precocious sorting out of a bad from a good object. The period of illusion (or my Transitional Phase) is disturbed. In analysis or in various activities in ordinary life an individual can be seen to be going on seeking the valuable resting-place of illusion. Illusion in this way has its positive value. See also Freud: Aus den Anfängen der Psychoanalyse: Briefe an Wilhelm Fliess. [From the early days of psychoanalysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess, essays and notes from the years 1887-1902] In 1895 Freud wrote (pp. 402 and 413) that only by outside help certain early functioning can proceed satisfactorily. : There are two drafts and several letters published for the year 1895 so this reference has not been traced.

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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history  here

Of the clinic  here

By Donald W. Winnicott here 

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud :here

By Jacques Lacan here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

Jacques Lacan in English here 

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here 

By Julia Evans here