Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Transitional Object

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_709

The term, first coined by analyst D. W. Winnicott, refers to the object that a child might confer with special significance, such as a piece of string, a teddy bear, or a blanket. A popular representation of the transitional object is the “security” blanket that the character Linus always carried in the Peanuts cartoon. In the treatment of this object, the child enacts the love and rage that results from the bond with and inevitable separation from the mother. Thus, the object can be the treatment of abuse, affection, or idealization and role play, with the function of allowing the child to create, in a liminal space, a relationship that is reciprocal with and at the same time a working-through of the original mother-child environment. The liminal space in which the object is created by the child is neither the mother-child environment nor the child separate from the mother but is the intersection of both settings in the space of play (Winnicott 2005, p. 3). The fact that the child...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access


  1. Bollas, C. (1987). The shadow of the object: Psychoanalysis of the unthought known. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  2. Turner, D. (1995). The darkness of God: Negativity in Christian mysticism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Winnicott, D. W. (2005). Playing and reality. London: Routledge Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pastoral Care and CounselingBoston College School of Theology and MinistryChestnut HillUSA