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Object Relations Theory

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Brittney Meredith

on 28 January 2016

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Transcript of Object Relations Theory

Relations Theory

How it works
A Psychodynamic Approach to understanding human behavior, development, relationships, psychopathology and psychotherapy.
Common intervention techniques
Empirical evidence
Key Theorists
Otto Kernberg
Melanie Klein
Ronald Fairbairn
Donald Winnicott
John Bowlby
Heinz Kohut
Edith Jacobson
Self-object relationship is a fundamental need
Objects can be people or things which we attach to early in life
Self-structure built by taking in parts of others
Personality developed
Seek out others who will affirm early self-object relationships
Psychological dysfunction if stuck at early stage of development
Uses immature manipulations to get others to meet unmet needs
We spend much of our lives attempting to break out of dependency to reach the autonomy of adulthood.
Failure to break away from dependent bonds leads to psychopathology. (Klee)
Brief Review of Object Relations Theory (ORT)
IPI Salt Lake: What is Object Relations Therapy? (Adapted from Scharff, J.S. & Scharff, D.E. (1992). Scharff Notes: A Primer of Object Relations Therapy. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. http://ipislc.home.comcast.net/~ipislc/Pages/aboutipi/whatisobjrel1.html
Klee, Thomas. Object relations theory and therapy. Nov. 11, 2011 Searched: http://www.objectrelations.org
Daniels, Victor (2007). Object relations theory, on website in The Psychology Department at Sonoma State University. Dec. 4, 2011. Searched: http://www.sonoma.edu/users/d/daniels/objectrelations.html
Avery, R.R., & Ryan, R.M. (1988). Object relations and ego development: comparison and correlates in middle childhood. Journal of Personality, 56, 547-569.
Bell, Michele. The effects of prematurity on development: Process studies: and object relations perspective. Nov. 11, 2011. Searched: www.prematurity.org/research/prematurity-effects1e.html
"Christmas in Purgatory"
Horner, A. (1970). "Object Relations and the Developing Ego in Therapy". New York: Jason Aronson, Inc.
Levine, David (2009). Object relatons, work and the self. London, Routledge.
Loeffler-Straska, Henriette and Blueml, Victor (2010). Assessment tools for affect regulation and quality of object relations in personality disorders: The predictive impact on initial treatment engagement. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, Vol. 74(1), Winter.
Rogers, Steven (2007). Where the moment meets the transcendent: using the process as a spiritual intervention in object relations psychotherapy. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, Vol. 26 (2), pp. 151-158.
Schattner, Emanuel and Shahar, Golan (2011). Role of pain personification in pain-related depression: an object relations perspective. Psychiatry 74(1), Spring.
Silk, Kenneth. Object relations and the nature of therapeutic interventions. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol 15(1), Mar, 2005. pp. 94-100.
By: Terry Martin
and Brittney Meredith

"Comparison of five different instruments in a sample of 297 patients with personality disorders showed that the Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV (SCID), SWAP-200, and the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP) lead to predictive models concerning initial therapy engagement. The Affect Experience and Affect Regulation Q-sort (AREQ) provided information concerning therapy rejection. The findings point to the
importance of interpersonal, affective, and psycho-structural functioning
in the diagnostic procedure of personality disorders." (Loeffler-Staska and Blueml, 2010)

Studies document the premature infants separated from their mothers for prolonged periods of time
develop insecure attachment patterns
. Most empirical literature focuses on adult experiences with few exceptions investigating relatedness in early childhood. Study on children ages 9-12 and showed those with higher maturation perceived themselves as more confident, having greater self-esteem, and less likely to present with internalising problems reflecdting anxiety and depression that children with low object relation's maturity. (Bell)
Client must admit there is a problem
Repeated destructive relationships with others who have their own destructive relationships
If they are not honest and are manipulative how can you help them?
Is considered to be culture bound
Beginning social worker: Knowing how to discern what the client is saying.
Deepened understanding of humans and their relationships
May not work well with those who do not wish to explore themselves
Writing about object relations is complex and difficult to understand (Avery & Ryan, 1988)
Object Relations proports the way we connect objects in early development to the way we deal with objects and people throughout life.
Human Development and Psychopathology
The process to attain the goal of adult autonomy is called separation-individuation
Human infant moves from early states of
(withdrawal) and then
(with the mother) to separation from and then
from the primary caregiver within the first three years of life and ends with “
object constancy
” (memory), and “
identity formation
” (personality)
Result is healthy functioning
Resolving Human Conflict
Trauma leads to a
pathological delay of development
resulting in the child never maturing emotionally. Child remains in state of “
identity diffusion
” and lacks the ego strength needed to form and maintain healthy relationships
This is a basis for
personality disorders
, such as schizoid, the borderline and the narcissist.
Unable to move foward due to repeated traumatic relationships caused by insufficient "ego strength".
The primary goal of object relations therapy is for the therapist to help the client move away from their dependency needs toward a fully functioning adult. (Klee, 2007)
Infant develops relationship with mother
Trauma in early years can cause the child to not mature emotionally.
Psychopathology is the inability to overcome developmental issues and remain in a state of immaturity and results in destructive relationships. Examples: Narcissism, borderline disorders, and schizoid
Psychotherapy is the process of overcoming delays and moving forward with development.
Therapist helps move client away from dependency to autonomy and fully functioning adult. (Klee, 2007)
Thank you for viewing our presentation. Terry & Brittney
Was true to Freud's theory and tried to add object relations
Empasized first 4 to 6 months
Emphasis is placed on the infant's drive that is directed at an object that later relates to the whole object in all other relationships.
Focus's on the development to the role of early fantasy in the formation of interpersonal relations.
The Eight Stages (Klee, T.)
For more detailed information: Click
Development of an unhealthy false self
When looking at the young child you have to take into account the external environment, especially the interaction with parents.
The object relations a child has very early on in life become the child’s prototypes for all later experiences regarding connections with others.
The internal object relation describes a relation which exists in the person's mind
When the needs of the child are not met by the parents a pathological turning away from external reality takes place
Instead of actual exchange with others, fantasied, private presences are established, the so-called internal objects
Early separation from infant to mother causes separation anxiety
Children develop a sense of self during early infancy when parents and others treat them as if they had an individualized sense of identity
Extensive application to borderline and narcissistic personality disorder
Emphasized the development of the superego
Three layers of develpment: first, primitive, punitive images; second, the ego ideal; third, realistic, moderate identifications
Moderate and realistic functions replace crude fears
Self-representation and the object representation build up under the influence of libidinal and aggressive drives.
History of extreme frustration that provokes intense anger and aggression during first few years of life
Child attempts to protect themselves by putting the aggression out on their parents
Causes borderline disorders
Stage 1: Preliminary Diagnosis of Relational Pattern
Enters therapy with developmental delay with strong dependency needs, rigid defenses, and a weak observing ego.
Psychotherapy is a process of correcting these limitations.
Therapy begins with a relational history where a dysfunctional pattern of relating will emerge.
Stage 2: Building the Therapeutic Alliance
Therapist builds a relationship with the patient/client to understand the patient's world as it is presented.
Stage 3: Identifying the Maladaptive Relational Pattern
Diagnose the maladaptive relational pattern of the patient, based on the methods of interaction he or she has used to develop a relationship with the therapist.
Stage 4: Patient Expresses Maladaptive Pattern
The therapist helps the patient become aware of the maladaptive behavior.
Therapist needs to help the patient focus on the relationship and explicitly state what he or she wants from it.
Stage 5: Therapist Generates Empathic Confrontation
Therapist generates a confrontation by empathetically refusing to participate in the manipulation.
Patient wants to manipulate the therapist into being a character in his or her internal drama of object relations that were distorted and split in early childhood because they were experienced as "bad" or unacceptable.
Stage 6: Working Through the Confrontation
May last several weeks or even months.
Clinician should not expect the patient to immediately agree with or appreciate the confrontation.
Stage 7: Generalizing the Therapeutic Relationship
Patients have accepted their maladaptive relational pattern via confrontation.
Patients hear how therapists experience their manipulations, they begin to understand how they have affected others.
Stage 8: Separation and Termination
Patient starts to separate from the therapist
Issues of breaking through the rigid barriers surrounding the wounded selves of patients and helping them to restructure stronger, more congruent, and more honest self-concepts.
Children with autism
People with Personality Disorders
Pain related depression
Spiritual Intervention
People with eating disorders
Abuse victims
Children, adolescents, & adults
Development of Early Object Relations

"Object-relations" refers to the
self-structure we internalize
in early childhood as we make an attachment to the primary caregiver (usually the mother).
An object (people or thing) is the focus of
relational needs
in human development
Infant has need for
We are born with
encoding and
with others determine how we express our genetic predisposition
It is believed we
create a script for drama
that we continue through life trying to get others to participate in.
Later in life we form
self-destructive relationships
with things like food and alcohol, as well as other people.
ORT analyzes the
relationship between people
Theorists believe that we are
relationship seeking
rather than pleasure seeking. (Internal process vs external process)
Theory of the human personality developed from the study of the
therapist-patient relationship
as it reflects the mother-infant dyad. (Scharff & Scharff, 1992)
Otto Kernberg
Melanie Klein
Ronald Fairbairn
Donald Winnicott
John Bowlby
Heinz Kohut
Edith Jacobson
The infant's experience in relationship with the mother, or primary caregiver, is the primary determinant of personality formation. (Scharff & Scharff, 1992)
Object relations begins with mother,
either good or bad relationship.
(This chart shows the object relations and developing ego in therapy.)
Object constancy is “the capacity to recognize and tolerate loving and hostile feelings toward the same object; the capacity to keep feelings centered on a specific object; and the capacity to value an object for attributes other than its function of satisfying needs. – Margaret Mahler
Photes from "Christmas in Pergatory"
Use of object relations in play therapy.
Daniels, Victor(2007)
Full transcript