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Eckstaedt, A. (1989). Ego-Syntonic Object Manipulation: The Formation of a Submissive Relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:499-512.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:499-512

Ego-Syntonic Object Manipulation: The Formation of a Submissive Relationship

Anita Eckstaedt


Denial, acting on both the inner and external world, relies on further defence mechanisms in the form of object manipulations aimed at changing reality to make it fit the denying person's inner needs. If the object's ego is not strong enough to resist these manipulations, it is pressured into a submissive relationship. By means of seduction or its opposite, intimidation and the use of threats, the object is made to believe the content of the denying person's inner or external world. The result is a mutually intrusive and reciprocal relationship in which the roles of victim and perpetrator alternate. This is the case when children are not allowed to acquire their own experiences during the process of transition from symbiosis to separation. Constant exposure to irritation leads to a regression of the ego, to the illusion that everything is possible in the 'we'. Object relations in adult life are then based on a parasitic need for the object in order to realize inner goals. In analysis this is

manifested as symbiotic omnipotence, posing a 'serious stumbling block' to the analytic process, which may take the form of an 'as-if' analysis.

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