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Buckley, P. (1985). Determinants of Object Choice in Adulthood: A Test Case of Object-Relations Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33:841-860.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33:841-860

Determinants of Object Choice in Adulthood: A Test Case of Object-Relations Theory

Peter Buckley, M.D.


A clinical example of the effects of the absence of the father during the early childhood of a male analysand and its consequences

for his later object choice is presented. This patient's biological father left the household when the patient was only a few months old, and his mother did not remarry until he was five years of age. Unconscious fantasies of the lost father, with whom the patient had no contact in reality, and longing for him organized the patient's drives and determined his self-identity as well as his later object choice. The patient developed both a positive and negative identification with the lost father. The identification was with a fantasy object not a real one. The case highlights the need to use a precise term in talking of the object, namely the mental representation of the object which may or may not be built up out of experiences with the real object.

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