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Diatkine, R. (1978). The Development of Object Relationships and Affects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:277-284.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:277-284

The Development of Object Relationships and Affects

R. Diatkine

Psychoanalysis is a theory of psychic development, although some people would contest the legitimacy of the genetic point of view. Formulations about development have often been the subject of lively controversies amongst psychoanalysts. It is, in fact, a question of reconstructing development from its end results, i.e. from mental functioning as studied in clinical practice with the help of the conceptual apparatus afforded by metapsychology. This reconstruction is inevitable in so far as the continuity of mental life is a fundamental hypothesis of psychoanalysis, but it cannot be taken for granted because the fantasied history of each patient has been rewritten numerous times with material from different stages. It is not easy to eliminate the risk of projecting back into the subject's prehistory, formations of relatively late origin, if we do not wish to accept at face value the spatial and temporal metaphors of 'profound' and 'archaic' and if we are not content to accept it as self-evident that they correspond.

Today's discussion concerns the development of object relations and affects, and the choice of these parameters is a judicious one, since it leads directly to the centre of our theoretical discussions. Object and object relations can be considered from a purely theoretical point of view, as concepts which allow us to encompass more readily the metapsychological notion of the drives. In 1915 Freud described the object as that through which the drive achieves its aim, and this definition is still valid.

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