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Fast, I. Chethik, M. (1972). Some Aspects of Object Relationships in Borderline Children. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:479-485.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:479-485

Some Aspects of Object Relationships in Borderline Children

Irene Fast and Morton Chethik

It is generally agreed that children with borderline disorders have markedly disturbed object relations. In this paper we propose to explore one aspect of that disturbance. Specifically, we will argue that in borderline children neither self-representations nor object-representations have been integrated into coherent and relatively stable wholes. A myriad of rigidly maintained self–other bonds has been established (e.g. motherchild, MC–audience) in which both the self-representation and the complementary object-representation are part objects. These self–other units are acted out in the external world. Prototypically, a self-fragment is expressed by the child and the complementary object-fragment is projected on to an actual person in the environment. The child, however, interacts with that other largely in terms of his own projection rather than in terms of the other person's actual characteristics.

We will try to show that these characteristics reflect a failure to complete the transition out of narcissism into a firm commitment to external reality. Our hypothesis is that these interpersonal characteristics are typical of the transitional period from pleasure to reality ego, remain available to normal functioning when higher levels of object relations have been achieved, and are important in borderline conditions of adulthood as well as childhood.

In our group of borderline children Gary most vividly illustrates these phenomena.

At the start of hospitalization, Gary, aged eight, appealed to our ward staff.

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