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Krystal, H. (1990). An Information Processing View of Object-Relations. Psychoanal. Inq., 10(2):221-251.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 10(2):221-251

An Information Processing View of Object-Relations

Henry Krystal, M.D.

In 1914, as Freud was studying melancholia by comparing it to the universally known human reaction of mourning, he became involved in proposing two models of object relations. One was based on the physics and physiology of his age, the other was influenced by his recent work “Totem and Taboo” (1913), which inspired his extraordinary fantasy-making power by leading him to consider the religious practices of people he had read about who managed to deny the conscious recognition of the loss of their loved ones by developing rituals which represented cannibalistic fantasies. Freud was inspired to make a generalization which has become a pillar of psychoanalysis that still stands. It is that the only way the ego can “give up” any object is by introjecting it. He erroneously assumed that we psychologically and unconsciously cannibalize our lost objects after we introject them into the ego. The object continues its existence within us, just like the duck inside the bad wolf that swallowed her, or like Pinocchio inside the whale.

To this day most analysts say that we introject our lost objects after we lose them.

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