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Bollas, C. (1982). On the Relation to the Self as an Object. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 63:347-359.

(1982). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 63:347-359

On the Relation to the Self as an Object

Christopher Bollas


Perhaps the most important object relationship is that relation that each person has to the self as an object of perception, facilitation, and object presenting. In this paper I examine how a person's idiom of being reflects a form of management, and I discuss how in intrasubjective, subvocal space, the self is objectified in the most ordinary sorts of ways. I discuss how each person is an object of handling within the dream space, and I indicate how intersubjective relations always imply a relation to the self as an object. In my view, each individual transfers elements of that maternal care system that handled them as an object when in infancy and childhood by relocating this parental care system into the person's own way of managing themself as an object. As such, in the clinical situation the psychoanalyst can observe how this particular form of transference (to the self as object) manifests itself and furthermore how some of the patient's responses are legitimately viewed as countertransferences: that is, specific reactions to the transferred parental system. I conclude this paper with a brief discussion of how the psycho-analytic situation is uniquely designed to facilitate this self as object relation in so far as the patient must narrate himself to the analyst, and I focus on how the analyst's handling of the patient, as the analyst's object, is internalized by the patient and how this alters his own previously arranged self as object relationship.

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