Thursday, September 14, 2006

Theories and Methods - Object Relations

Object relations theory shares a similar interest in the early development of personality with Freudian theory. However, object relations is more concerned with the self and object relationship (hence the name) than with unconscious drives.

Margaret Mahler’s theory of development is well-known in object relations. Through this theory she posits four stages of development. First there is normal autism which is an undifferentiated state where the infant is oblivious to the external environment. Second is the symbiotic phase the infant recognizes but does not differentiate between the self and the mother. The third phase is differentiation where the child (7 months) separates the self from the other and begins to recognize the differences inherent in each. Finally, the child (2 years old by now) reaches the stage of integration or rapprochement during which the self and the external object are perceived as independent and can have a relationship with one another.

In order to be healthy the child must move through these four stages and develop a coherent idea of self as apart from the other. If the development of early object relations is stunted then the individual will be unable to render the self and the other appropriately and become fixated on an earlier stage of development. The goals of object relations therapy are to provide support, acceptance and opportunity for the client to view themselves and relate to others in a meaningful way.

For further review: Object Social Work Practice


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you soooooo much for the information about "Object-Relations Theory." The prep course I took included a book describing the theory,but it was extremely confusing. In 2 paragraphs you explained it perfectly in a way I can understand it. I don't know who you are, but my sincere thanks goes out to you. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks!!!!! Im ready because of you.