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Winnicott, D.W. (1969). The Use of an Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:711-716.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:711-716

The Use of an Object

D. W. Winnicott


Object-relating can be described in terms of the experience of the subject. Description of object-usage involves consideration of the nature of the object. I am offering for discussion the reasons why, in my opinion, a capacity to use an object is more sophisticated than a capacity to relate to objects; and relating may be to a subjective object, but usage implies that the object is part of external reality.

This sequence can be observed: (1) Subject relates to object. (2) Object is in process of being found instead of placed by the subject in the world. (3) Subject destroys object. (4) Object survives destruction. (5) Subject can use object.

The object is always being destroyed. This destruction becomes the unconscious backcloth for love of a real object; that is, an object outside the area of the subject's omnipotent control.

Study of this problem involves a statement of the positive value of destructiveness. The destructiveness plus the object's survival of the destruction places the object outside the area in which projective mental mechanisms operate, so that a world of shared reality is created which the subject can use and which can feed back into the subject.

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