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W., H. (1948). Object Relationships and Dynamic Structure: W. Ronald D. Fairbairn. Int. J. Psa., XXVII, 1946, pp. 30–36.. Psychoanal Q., 17:421-421.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Object Relationships and Dynamic Structure: W. Ronald D. Fairbairn. Int. J. Psa., XXVII, 1946, pp. 30–36.

(1948). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 17:421-421

Object Relationships and Dynamic Structure: W. Ronald D. Fairbairn. Int. J. Psa., XXVII, 1946, pp. 30–36.

H. W.

In this highly challenging paper, Fairbairn argues strongly for the theory that human organisms are primarily object-seeking and not pleasure-seeking, and correlatively, oral and genital expressions are not pleasure ends in themselves but rather the means or techniques whereby objects are captured. Anal and urinary aims are not primarily libidinal aims but expressions of wishes to rid the body of objects foreign to it; the resultant pleasure stems solely from the relief of tension and is a pleasure which occurs 'irrespective of the nature of the forces whose tension is relieved'. 'The fact is that tension-relieving is really a safety-valve process' which takes place when the satisfaction for object needs cannot be obtained. Behavior is from the very first oriented towards objects in outer reality and comprises three main stages: first, the object is the breast and the techniques for capturing it, oral; secondly, a transition stage leading to the third stage in which the object is the heterosexual genital and the means of attachment is one's own genital. In the first stage is found infantile dependency based on identification through incorporative processes. In the difficult transitional stage arise the 'defensive techniques'—which are 'the varying modes of dealing with internal objects' that were taken in during the first stage. It is in the early period of this stage that anal impulses play such a large rôle in attempts at getting rid of internalized objects. Finally in the third stage there evolves a mature mutual dependence with objects in which identification based on incorporation is at a minimum.

This exposition is followed by a description of the earliest developments of endopsychic structure as envisioned by Fairbairn. It is based on Melanie Klein's theory of internalized objects. It differs from Freud not only in that it is ultimately based on the repression of internalized objects but more fundamentally in that Fairbairn holds that 'both structure divorced from energy and energy divorced from structure are meaningless concepts' just as in physics energy is no longer something adhering to atoms but is a function of atomic structure. Thus, instead of the concepts of the ego and superego structures borrowing energy from a structureless id, Fairbairn conceives the psyche of the infant as originally a dynamic ego structure from which is subsequently split off a 'Libidinal Ego'—attached to the 'exciting or needed' part of the internalized bad object (corresponding to the id)—and an 'Internal Saboteur'—attached to the 'rejecting' part of the internalized bad object (corresponding to the superego). This is called the 'Basic Endopsychic Situation'.

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Article Citation

W., H. (1948). Object Relationships and Dynamic Structure. Psychoanal. Q., 17:421-421

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