Object Relations Theory: A Few Main Points


I.  Object Relations Theory


1.     Object relations theory emerged as an innovative movement within psychoanalysis along with increased interest in disorders associated with the earliest, "pre-oedipal" period of ego development. 


2.     It shifts from the language of drives to a language of “relations with others”.

a.     One's earliest interpersonal relations (usually with parents) are the essential settings for psychological formation ("self-structuring"). 


3.     Early interrelations are "internalized" as lasting mental representations or imagos of self and others.  These imagos populate the individual's inner world exert an influence upon mental processes throughout life.

a.     One's internalized relations are permanent fixtures of the psyche from childhood onward and are continually "reactivated" or "used" as a means of maintaining inner equilibrium, especially in the face of psychological stress or trauma. 


4.     These internalized images of early relations can lend stability to later emotional life, depending upon how well they foster an internalized sense of self and other that is constant, whole, and positive.