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Hirsch, I. (1996). Object Relations Theories And Psychopathology: A Comprehensive Text. By Frank Summers. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1994, 408 pp., $45.00.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:1257-1261.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:1257-1261

Object Relations Theories And Psychopathology: A Comprehensive Text. By Frank Summers. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1994, 408 pp., $45.00.

Review by:
Irwin Hirsch

Frank Summers sets out to take an in-depth look at the variety of theories and theorists he distinguishes as falling under the rubric of object relations. His talent as a writer is considerable, and given the density and complexity of the material, his work is quite readable, while also maintaining a high level of theoretical and clinical sophistication. In addition to his integrative introductory and concluding chapters, Summers explores in fine detail the work of Ronald Fairbairn and Harry Guntrip, Melanie Klein, D. W. Winnicott, Otto Kernberg, Heinz Kohut, and the interpersonal school. He divides each theory into subsections: the structure of personality; development; psychopathology; and therapy. Each theory and theorist is compared and contrasted with the others, in all of these dimensions. Every chapter, however, can also stand alone for a reader who is interested in a particular point of view. The reader leaves each chapter well informed about the subject matter, though the author does seem to grasp the full implications of some perspectives more than others.

Throughout the volume Summers contrasts his view of object relations theories with what he refers to as the “drive-ego” model of classical theory. He does not speak of the various object relations theories as exactly the same as one another but as having certain key commonalities. With respect to personality structure, the internal self is a function of internalized object relations. The “self,” in contrast to “ego,” consists of internalized object relations units.

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