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Object Relations

  Object Relations Theory, in psychoanalysis, is one in which a person\'s relations to external and internalized figures are central (as distinct from Freud\'s instinct theory which concentrates more on the possibility of internal forces controlling the pattern of our lives). The theory was developed by the British School of Psychoanalysis, notably Melanie Klein, D.W. Winnicott, W.R.D Fairbairn and M. Balint.

Object relations are relations with people, parts of people or symbolic representations of one or the other. The word is not used in its sense of ‘thing’, but instead recognizes the complexity of our relationship to others and the ways in which we psychologically ‘construct’ other people.

Objects can be ‘bad objects’: people, aspects or parts of people, or representations which the subject hates and fears. A bad object can be someone in the world or an internalized figure. A ‘good object’ whom a subject loves is a benevolent figure who is also either a real person or an internalized symbolic figure. These internal objects are related to as if they are real. ‘Object loss’ is the loss of a good external figure which is then internalized by the force of introjection and is mourned in this internalized position. MJ

Further reading J.R. Greenberg and , S.A. Mitchell, Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory.



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