Ego psychology and object relationship

An ego psychology-object relations theory approach to the transference.

ego psychology and object relationship

ABSTSACT The significance of ego development and object relations for ad- aptation . adaptational core of the personality One line of ego psychology has em-. Download Citation on ResearchGate | An Ego Psychology Object brings to the surface the underlying, dissociated, primitive object relations. "Because the term object relations theory has been used by different authors in varying contexts and within a wide spectrum of approaches to.

Introjection of the good object is also used by the ego as a defense against anxiety.

ego psychology and object relationship

The processes of splitting off parts of the self and projecting them into objects are thus of vital importance for normal development as well as for abnormal object-relation. The effect of introjection on object relations is equally important. It comes to form a focal point in the ego and makes for cohesiveness of the ego. The introjection of the good breast provides a location where one can hide from persecution, an early step in developing a capacity to self-soothe.

Object relations theory

Ogden [19] identifies four functions that projective identification may serve. As in the traditional Kleinian model, it serves as a defense. Projective identification serves as a mode of communication. The paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions occur in the pre-oedipal, oral phase of development. In contrast to Fairbairn and later Guntrip, [20] Klein believed that both good and bad objects are introjected by the infant, the internalization of good object being essential to the development of healthy ego function.

Paranoid-schizoid position[ edit ] The paranoid-schizoid position is characterized by part object relationships. Part objects are a function of splitting, which takes place in phantasy.

At this developmental stage, experience can only be perceived as all good or all bad. As part objects, it is the function that is identified by the experiencing self, rather than whole and autonomous others. The hungry infant desires the good breast who feeds it. Should that breast appear, it is the good breast.

If the breast does not appear, the hungry and now frustrated infant in its distress, has destructive phantasies dominated by oral aggression towards the bad, hallucinated breast.

Object relations theory - Wikipedia

Projection is an attempt to eject the bad in order to control through omnipotent mastery. Splitting is never fully effective, according to Klein, as the ego tends towards integration. The splitting and part object relations that characterize the earlier phase are succeeded by the capacity to perceive that the other who frustrates is also the one who gratifies. Schizoid defenses are still in evidence, but feelings of guilt, grief, and the desire for reparation gain dominance in the developing mind.

In the depressive position, the infant is able to experience others as whole, which radically alters object relationships from the earlier phase. It is only in the depressive position that polar qualities can be seen as different aspects of the same object.

In a development which Grotstein terms the "primal split", [22]: With the awareness of the primal split, a space is created in which the symbol, the symbolized, and the experiencing subject coexist. History, subjectivity, interiority, and empathy all become possible. In fact or phantasy, one now realizes the capacity to harm or drive away a person who one ambivalently loves.

The Psychoanalytic Muse: Otto Kernberg on Ego Psychology and Object Relations Theory

The defenses characteristic of the depressive position include the manic defenses, repression and reparation. The manic defenses are the same defenses evidenced in the paranoid-schizoid position, but now mobilized to protect the mind from depressive anxiety.

ego psychology and object relationship

As the depressive position brings about an increasing integration in the ego, earlier defenses change in character, becoming less intense and allow increasing awareness of psychic reality.

Unconscious guilt for destructive phantasies arises in response to the continuing love and attention provided by caretakers. These feelings of guilt and distress now enter as a new element into the emotion of love.

ego psychology and object relationship

They become an inherent part of love, and influence it profoundly both in quality and quantity. Omnipotence is lessened, which corresponds to a decrease in guilt and the fear of loss.

Previously, extended absences of the object the good breast, the mother was experienced as persecutory, and, according to the theory of unconscious phantasythe persecuted infant phantisizes destruction of the bad object.

The good object who then arrives is not the object which did not arrive. Likewise, the infant who destroyed the bad object is not the infant who loves the good object.

ego psychology and object relationship

In phantasy, the good internal mother can be psychically destroyed by the aggressive impulses. It is crucial that the real parental figures are around to demonstrate the continuity of their love. In this way, the child perceives that what happens to good objects in phantasy does not happen to them in reality.

Psychic reality is allowed to evolve as a place separate from the literalness of the physical world. Through repeated experience with good enough parenting, the internal image that the child has of external others, that is the child's internal object, is modified by experience and the image transforms, merging experiences of good and bad which becomes more similar to the real object e.


In Freudian terms, the pleasure principle is modified by the reality principle. Melanie Klein saw this surfacing from the depressive position as a prerequisite for social life.

ego psychology and object relationship

Moreover, she viewed the establishment of an inside and an outside world as the start of interpersonal relationships.

Klein argued that people who never succeed in working through the depressive position in their childhood will, as a result, continue to struggle with this problem in adult life. The guilt is there because of a lack of differentiation between phantasy and reality. It also functions as a defense mechanism to defend the self against unbearable feelings of sadness and sorrow, and the internal object of the loved one against the unbearable rage of the self, which, it is feared, could destroy the internal object forever.

Further thinking regarding the positions[ edit ] Wilfred Bion articulates the dynamic nature of the positions, a point emphasised by Thomas Ogdenand expanded by John Steiner in terms of '"The equilibrium between the paranoid-schizoid and the depressive positions"'. Grotstein, following Bion, also hypothesizes a transcendent position which emerges following attainment of the depressive position.

This aspect of both Ogden and Grotstein's work remains controversial for many within classical object relations theory. Death drive[ edit ] 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 focus. 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. Consequently, both a mother or just the mother's breast can be the focus of satisfaction for a drive.

Furthermore, according to traditional psychoanalysis, there are at least two types of drives, the libido mythical counterpart: Erosand the death drive, mortido mythical counterpart: Thus, the objects can be receivers of both love and hatethe affective effects of the libido and the death drive. Ronald Fairbairn's Six Ego Positions[ edit ] Fairbairn posited six ego positions or inner voices, or 3 pairs: This is the part of the inner world that object relations therapists try to expand and grow.

The Antilibidinal Ego relating to the Bad Object, is the depressed, angry or hopeless inner child relating to the rejecting or neglectful inner parent. Object relations theory considers the psychic apparatus as originating in the earliest stage of a process of internalization of object relations. This process covers, roughly speaking, the first three years of life — and results in the formation of substructures of the psychic apparatus that will gradually differentiate.

The stages of development of internalized object relations — that is, the stages of infantile autism, symbiosis, separation-individuation, and of object constancy — reflect the vicissitudes of these earliest substructures of the psychic apparatus. Discrete units of self-representation, object representation, and an affect disposition linking them are the basic oject-relations-derived substructures that gradually evolve into more complex substructures such as real-self and ideal-self, and real-object and ideal-object representations.

Eventually, they will become integrated as intrapsychic structures in the ego, superego, and id. Underlying this conception is an assumption common to Jacobson; Mahler Mahler and Furer, ; Mahler et al. Object relations theory, as defined, based upon Jacobson's, Mahler's, and my own work, is in contrast to the British school of psychoanalysis in that it integrates contemporary ego-psychological approaches with structural development, avoids telescoping intrapsychic development into the first year of life, assumes a more complex and gradual development of both ego and superego than the British school, and considers the relationships between early development, intrapsychic genetics, and structure formation as complex, indirect, and not immediately available in the early stages of psychoanalytic exploration.

Hence, the object relations approach I have outlined is closer to Fairbairn, Balint, and Winnicott, than to Melanie Klein,and Bion However, the neglect of instinctual development in Fairbairn is sharply contrary to my approach. In contrast to what might be considered an object-relations approach of Sullivan and his followers, object relations theory as outlined here has to do not only with interpersonal object relations, but is predominantly a metapsychological approach — an attempt to account for normal and pathological development in terms of the structures comprising the psychic apparatus.