"Object" & It's Relations

A. Molnos

In everyday thinking and in logic "object" is the opposite of "subject". By the latter we usually mean a person. Due to the unfortunate expression "object relations theory" (Freud, Klein, Fairbairn) in psychotherapy we have ended up with "object" meaning a person. The history of this terminological aberration is in a nutshell as follows. First Freud introduced the idea of "object choice" which refers to the child's earliest relationships with his caretakers. Such people are "objects" of his needs and desires. The relationship with them becomes internalised mental representations. Subsequently Melanie Klein coined the term "part objects" (e.g. the mother's breast) which play an important role in early development and later in psychic disturbances, such as excessive preoccupation with certain body parts or aspects of a person as opposed to the whole person. Finally, W.R.D. Fairbairn and others developed the so-called "object relations theory". According to it the child who does not receive good enough mothering increasingly retreats into an inner world of fantasy objects with whom he tries to satisfy his need for real "objects", that is for relationships.