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In the Beginning

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Object Relations Theory


Love and Lust in Attachment: Neuro-Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Object Relations (

Sigmund Freud developed the concept object relation to describe or emphasize that bodily drives satisfy their need through a medium, an object, on a specific locus. The central thesis in Melanie Klein's object relations theory was that objects play a decisive role in the development of a subject and can be either part-objects or whole-objects, i.e. a single organ (a mother's breast) or a whole person (a mother). Consequently both a mother or just the mother's breast can be the locus of satisfaction for a drive. Furthermore, according to traditional psychoanalysis, there are at least two types of drives, the libido (mythical counterpart: Eros), and the death drive (mythical counterpart: Thanatos). Thus, the objects can be receivers of both love and hate, the affective effects of the libido and the death drive. Another use of part-object vs. whole-object relates to the inability of young children to conceive of an object which can be both 'good' and 'bad' (e.g., a loving yet sometimes-frustrating mother). Because of this inability, children view objects as either all-good or all-bad, thus only seeing a part of that object instead of the object's whole good/bad reality. Children are too young to understand that objects can be both good and bad they only see one part of the spectrum.(Wikepedia)