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Sandler, J. Sandler, A. (1978). On the Development of Object Relationships and Affects. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:285-296.

(1978). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 59:285-296

On the Development of Object Relationships and Affects

Joseph Sandler and Anne-Marie Sandler

This paper is about the development of object relationships, with special reference to the role of affect in that development. The topic is not an easy one to discuss because the psychoanalytic theory of object relationships is far from satisfactory, and our theory of affect is, at best, in a state of healthy and constructive chaos. When we think about object relationships we have to cope in our minds with such concepts as relationships to part and whole objects, to objects which are only need-satisfying or which possess object-constancy. We have objects to whom there is an anaclitic relationship, towards whom we are ambivalent, who are narcissistic objects, self objects, or simply good or bad objects. There are objects with whom we have sadomasochistic relationships, objects biological and objects psychological; and many others. In the face of all this we have found it increasingly necessary to ask ourselves how the theory of object relationships can be integrated into our intrapsychic psychoanalytic psychology.

It was certainly appropriate, for some considerable time during the development of psychoanalytic theory, to regard an object relationship as the 'cathexis of an object' with libidinal or aggressive energy. This is a way of saying, within the energic frame of reference, that an object relationship is the state of loving, or of both loving and hating, some other person or an aspect of that person. But it is increasingly clear that conceiving of an object relationship as the energic investment of an object is inadequate and simplistic (see Joffe & Sandler, 1967).

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