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Fairbairn, W.D. (1944). Endopsychic Structure Considered in Terms of Object-Relationships. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 25:70-92.

(1944). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 25:70-92

Endopsychic Structure Considered in Terms of Object-Relationships

W. Ronald D. Fairbairn


In a previous article (1941) I attempted to formulate a new version of the libido theory and to outline the general features which a systematic psychopathology based upon this re-formulation would appear to assume. The basic conception which I advanced on that occasion, and to which I still adhere, is to the effect that libido is primarily object-seeking (rather than pleasure-seeking, as in the classic theory), and that it is to disturbances in the object-relationships of the developing ego that we must look for the ultimate origin of all psychopathological conditions. This conception seems to me not only to be closer in accord with psychological facts and clinical data than that embodied in Freud's original theory of the libido, but also to represent a logical outcome of the present stage of psycho-analytical thought and a necessary step in the further development of psycho-analytical theory. In particular, it seems to me to constitute an inevitable implication of the illuminating conception of internalized objects, which has been so fruitfully developed by Melanie Klein, but which traces its scientific origin to Freud's theory of the super-ego (an endopsychic structure which was, of course, conceived by him as originating in the internalization of objects).

Quite apart from the considerations advanced in my previous paper or various other considerations which could be adduced, it may be claimed that the psychological introjection of objects and, in particular, the perpetuation of introjected objects in inner reality are processes which by their very nature imply that libido is essentially object-seeking; for the mere presence of oral impulses is in itself quite insufficient to account for such a pronounced devotion to objects as these phenomena imply.

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