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Brody, S. Axelrad, S. Moroh, M. (1976). Early Phases in the Development of Object Relations. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 3:1-31.

(1976). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 3:1-31

Early Phases in the Development of Object Relations

Sylvia Brody, Sidney Axelrad and Marsha Moroh

Psychoanalytic investigations of infant behaviour have been especially concerned with the development of object relations, a subject so encompassing that we find ourselves far from any systematic theory. Direct observations of the infant and young child bring information about only limited aspects of psychic structure. Clinical reconstructions may be supported by internal change in the patient or by transference phenomena and may reveal a correct history of a patient's past and present object relations, but they do not yield any hard data about genetic determinants. Unfortunately, clinicians usually are not interested in gathering quantitative data, although psychoanalytic theory is full of concepts that want strengthening or clarification by means of quantification.

In the investigation that we shall be describing we sought evidence, mainly by methods of direct observation and collection of data capable of quantification, to test several hypotheses about ego development and about visible aspects of object relations, defences and superego formation that we believe give form to character development before latency.

Traditionally, object relations refer to mental representations in one person about interactions with objects. The interactions consist of active and passive wishes to have something happen to, or with, or against an object. This is true even if the wishes are not carried out in manifest behaviour, even if the self is the object, and even if the wish occurs only in a dream.

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