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Bollas, C. (1982). On the Relation to the Self as an Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:347-359.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:347-359

On the Relation to the Self as an Object

Christopher Bollas

It is one of the significant features of Winnicott's psychoanalysis to think of the patient as once a baby who lived within a maternal holding environment and to ask in a clinical psychoanalysis how patients communicate to the analyst through the transference their knowledge of this holding environment. In living with borderline, schizoid, and narcissistic character disorders, Winnicott knew that he was immersed in the patient's unconscious reconstruction of an infant's environment, and it was a feature of his technique to adapt himself to the patient's ego defects and characterological biases in order to allow for the transference illusion to evolve without the impingement of a premature use of analytic interpretation. From this experiencing of the early infant environment the analyst could then interpret the past as it was recreated through the transference.

If patients bear through ego structure memories of being the mother's and father's object, and, if in the course of a person's object relations he enacts or represents various positions in the historical theatre of lived experiences between aspects of mother, father and his baby-infant self (enacting bits of each of these person's roles), then each person is perpetually engaged in a complex relationship to himself as an object. This relationship is my topic. At first glance it might seem so obviously the case, that each of us lives out a relationship to oneself, that further thought on the matter might seem a curiously wasteful thing to do.

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