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Rinsley, D.B. (1968). Economic Aspects of Object Relations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 49:38-48.

(1968). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 49:38-48

Economic Aspects of Object Relations

Donald B. Rinsley

The fundamental importance of object relations theory, developed by the so-called British School of Psychoanalysis, no longer requires comment. At root, object relations theory represents a particular view of, and approach to, instinct theory, and it epitomizes the shift within Freud's own writings (Hartmann, 1956) from a predominantly aim-oriented to an object-oriented view of metapsychology. The latter may be said to have coincided, in more than a rough way, with Freud's related shift from an emphasis upon the id to an emphasis upon the ego. The writings of Klein and of Fairbairn and their followers emphasize the primacy of the object of instinct as over against instinctual aim (Guntrip, 1964), and they establish the point of view, of great importance for psychoanalysis, that the object is no mere instrumentality, just as Federn (1952) emphasized that the ego is no mere abstraction.

The shift toward object relations within psychoanalysis has evoked research of far-reaching importance by those workers who have been favourably disposed toward the significance of the British workers' efforts to understand intra-psychic events. Related to, if not a direct outgrowth of, this frame of reference has been the work of Jacobson (1964) and others (e.g. Kernberg, 1966) on the structural aspects of object relationships, which has yielded an understanding of identity of notable subtlety and profundity.

When we enter the area of economics, however, matters become complex far beyond what is expected of a predominantly structural view.

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