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Fairbairn, W.D. (1946). Object-Relationships and Dynamic Structure. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 27:30-37.

(1946). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 27:30-37

Object-Relationships and Dynamic Structure

W. Ronald D. Fairbairn

The aim of the present contribution (which is based upon a paper read before the British Psycho-Analytical Society on June 5, 1946) is to give some general account of the views expressed in four papers of mine published during the course of the recent war and listed in the appendix. One difficulty which confronts me in any attempt to describe these views comprehensively is that they represent, not so much the elaboration of a definitely established point of view as the progressive development of a line of thought. The result is that, when statements in one paper are compared with those in another, it is not difficult for the critic to find contradictions—in some cases only apparent, but in other cases, I fear, actual. Another difficulty is that this development of thought has continued in progress since the date of the last paper, and that, consequently, many changes have occurred in my views since that date. However, I think I may say that such basic principles as have been formulated, and such main conclusions as have been recorded in these papers have remained substantially unchanged. And, even when at times I have come to doubt some of my conclusions, it has often happened that subsequent experience has led me to reaffirm them in my own mind.

The ultimate principle from which the whole of my special views are derived may be formulated in the general proposition that libido is not primarily pleasure-seeking, but object-seeking. The clinical material on which this proposition is based may be summarized in the protesting cry of a patient to this effect—'You're always talking about my wanting this and that desire satisfied; but what I really want is a father.

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