Excerpts About Object Relations

According to Kernberg an object relation consists of three parts: a self-representation, an object-representation, and an affect (a certain emotional content) linking the two. A representation of self or object means an image, partial or total, of the self or object. This image is not necessarily always the visual or mental. It can be emotional, tactile, or auditory. It is really an impression of the self or object.
The Void, p. 11   •  discuss »
Because any experience, whether pleasurable or not, leaves its memory trace as a certain impression of oneself, a certain impression of the other person or object, and an affect between the two, Kernberg’s triad of the self-representation, the object-representation and the affect become the building blocks of the infant's psychic structure. So as the infant grows and receives impressions, many units of such triads form, these being units of object relations. In time, the various object representations fuse to make an overall object-image and the various self-representations also fuse to make a total and cohesive self-image. This happens in the fourth and last stage of the separation-individuation process.
The Void, p. 12   •  discuss »
According to object relations theory, the development of ego structure through the process of separation-individuation happens primarily by means of the internalization of object relations through the formation of inner images of self and other. The "object" is generally the human love object, and an object relation is simply the relation between self and object, usually an emotional relation. "Object relations" then generally refer to the mental representation of this relation, which consists of three parts: a self-image, usually called a "self-representation"; an object-image, usually called an "object-representation"; and the emotional relation or affect between the two, such as love, anger, fear or desire.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 50   •  discuss »
If object relations theory includes the concept of Being, it will end up acknowledging the defensive nature of these identifications at the deepest level. In all our experience, with hundreds of students, identification systems always turn out to have a defensive function... This implies that the ego structure, including the sense of self, of separateness, and of individuality, all have a defensive function by their very nature.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 139   •  discuss »
The ego begins as a differentiated structure with a defensive purpose out of necessity, and it is out of necessity that it retains some of its defensive nature. Defense is even seen as appropriate, especially in early childhood, for adaptive purposes. It is not envisioned that a human being could ever be beyond the need for psychological defense. As we have noted, however, secondary autonomy does reduce the defensive function of ego, making it more harmonious within, more sensitive to external reality, more emotionally objective and more open to profound states.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 142   •  discuss »
A positive object relation can be used, for example, as a defense against another object relation that is considered negative. The first one is positive in that it defends against greater negativity, even if it is somewhat negative. The other case is that an object relation which is positive, for example a loving interaction with mother, can be used in a defensive way if there is a need to defend against a loss of an aspect of Being, such as Will.
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 155   •  discuss »
We have talked about and worked on two object relations so far: the rejecting object relation and the frustrating object relation. The rejecting object relation fixes you in a place of feeling afraid in the world. This fear makes it difficult for you to function as a mature human being. The frustrating object relation puts you in a position of being a hungry and desirous little kid who wants something it can't have but always seeks. So you’re either paranoid or a seeker. We've talked about how these object relations interfere with dealing with yourself and your life in a mature way because in these two object relations you’re functioning with an infant identity.
Diamond Heart Book V, p. 260   •  discuss »
So the central object relation integrates all of the good experiences you've had. You feel supported, loved, nourished, and wanted. It is the most basic object relation, the one you've engaged all of your life. We would be psychotic if we didn't have those feelings of support and love. Things would be too painful, chaotic, and scary without that feeling of good and secure connection that nourishes and fulfills us, that makes life tolerable.
Diamond Heart Book V, p. 261   •  discuss »
So let's further explore this central object relation. The central object relation is a relationship between the central ego, the core, or the central part of the soul to what is called the ideal object or the ideal other. The object here is ideal in the sense that the object, the parent or the teacher or the teaching or the school or the breast, whatever it may be, is comforting, satisfying, fulfilling, nourishing, supporting, and giving. The ideal object is not absolutely idealized. We need not think the ideal object is perfect. The ideal object is simply good, in a normal, everyday kind of way.
Diamond Heart Book V, p. 262   •  discuss »
The good relationship that you had with your parents also constitutes an object relation. Each of us had moments of relating with both parents and, at the deepest level, with the breast that were not so conflicted. Without this fulfilling object relation, you wouldn't be here. You wouldn't have survived physically and emotionally. And, of course, this central positive object relation is hardest to see, although it is there and you are enacting it all of the time. Usually we can’t see or pinpoint the central object relation for what it is until we deal, to some extent, with the other more painful object relations. The central object relation is typically not painful. In fact, we usually experience it as normal and non-conflicted, or even as good and fulfilling.
Diamond Heart Book V, p. 261   •  discuss »

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