W.R.D. (“Ronald”) Fairbairn was born in Edinburgh in 1889, an only child. His father Thomas was a Scottish Presbyterian, and his mother Cecilia was Anglican but raised him strictly according to the Calvinist beliefs of his father. Surprisingly for a child, he enjoyed the lengthy sermons and mandatory church services, and after a serious and scholarly youth, he enrolled in Divinity studies at the London University and then his ministerial training in Edinburgh. His study was interrupted by the outbreak of WWI. He fought in Palestine and North Africa throughout the war years, and after observing numerous cases of “war neuroses” (PTSD), he returned to Edinburgh determined to change his focus of study to psychiatry. He read the works of Freud and Jung, and the Swiss analyst-pastor Oskar Pfister. He entered analysis with E.G. Connell, an Australian Anglican whose beliefs in a “full-blooded Christianity” rather than doctrinal preoccupation deeply influenced his view of both faith and...
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