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Morgan, N. (1999). An Introduction to Object Relations. By Lavinia Gomez. Free Association Books. Pp 245. £15.95.. Psychoanal. Psychother., 13(2):189-191.

(1999). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 13(2):189-191

An Introduction to Object Relations. By Lavinia Gomez. Free Association Books. Pp 245. £15.95.

Review by:
Neil Morgan

This will be a useful primer on object relations, aimed, as it is, at students of psychotherapy of all theoretical approaches, as well as other interested people. Its best feature is that it is so highly accessible, compared with, say, Meir Perlow's Understanding Mental Objects, in comparison with which it suffers in terms of intellectual rigour. It shares something of the approach of Greenberg & Mitchell's Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory, in being ‘synthetic’, trying to help the student by illuminating areas of convergence and divergence, which are usually obscured by the complexities and isolation of various analytic schools. Compared with both these books, it is a much easier read, and it would serve as a helpful introduction to either of them.

The idea stressed throughout is the conviction that the self should be viewed as made up of internal relationships, at both conscious and unconscious levels. This immediately places relating, rather than the satisfaction of biological drives, at the centre of psychotherapy. However, Gomez is aware, not least from her position as a practising therapist, that the drive theory will not quite go away. She returns to this theme at several places in the book, trying to find a way to fit these two apparently competing perspectives together, under the realisation that human beings have a foot in both camps: “We seem to live in a psycho-physiological world,” she notes.

The book is divided into two parts: the first devoted to theory; and the second, more ambitiously, to a number of areas under the general heading of applications. In my view, the first section is the better. It consists of seven chapters devoted to the historical development of object relations theory.

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