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Pick, I.B. (1992). The Emergence of Early Object Relations in the Psychoanalytic Setting. New Library of Psychoanalysis, 14:24-33.

(1992). New Library of Psychoanalysis, 14:24-33

The Emergence of Early Object Relations in the Psychoanalytic Setting Book Information Previous Up Next

Irma Brenman Pick

We are all familiar with the notion that the way we look at people will affect what we see; it is, after all, part of common parlance that we may look at someone with adoring eyes, through rose-coloured spectacles, or with hate, with a mote in the eye, with black looks or dirty looks or even with looks that kill, and that these feelings may affect or even grossly distort the accuracy of our perceptions, as well as the way we react to others. This in turn may affect their actual behaviour towards us.

Indeed, our receptors - eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and touch - all that with which we take in from outside, are parts of our living and evolving selves. And if we speak of black looks or dirty looks, we imply that the look is putting something nasty into that which is looked at. Because we project so much - and then take in - we are not sure how much of what we are perceiving is really there, and what has been added to, either with love or hate, of what comes from ourselves. We receive experiences, and also in phantasy or reality express or expel feelings and parts of ourselves, good and bad, as well as our own internalized history.

Of central importance in Melanie Klein's work was the emphasis she placed on the idea that these forces were operative from the very beginning of life. She postulated that even the very young infant, responding in a loving way to the internal breast that comforts and supports and feeds him, also attributes his own loving feelings to that breast, and takes in bit by bit and stores experiences of a loving and comforting mother: this is based in part on taking in real nourishment and real experience from the breast, but it is also coloured by what he attributes (and contributes) to it. Conversely, frustrated and in a rage, he attributes cruel feelings and motives to the breast, and ‘perceives’ it as hurtful and attacking.

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