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Sternbach, O. (1983). Critical Comments on Object Relations Theory. Psychoanal. Rev., 70(3):403-421.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(3):403-421

Critical Comments on Object Relations Theory

Oscar Sternbach

A sagacity quick in picking up analogies and an imagination audacious in the use it makes of them, are combined with a capability for enlisting emotions and passions in order to obtain interest for its object—an object that is always veiled in mystery. These emotions are easily mistaken for the efforts of powerful and profound thoughts or at least of deeply significant allusions and they arouse higher expectations than good judgment would find justified. Synonyms are passed off as explanations, allegories are offered as truths. Kant

Splitting and Integration

An “Object Relations Theory of the Personality” was the name coined by Fairbairn in the nineteen forties to emphasize his opposition to the instinct theory of personality of Freud and his school. Properly speaking only D. W. Winnicott, John Wisdom, John Sutherland, and Harry Guntrip, the so-called British School, belong with Fairbairn to the group of analytic dissidents, whose thinking is closely related (Guntrip, 1969). The degree of deviation of this group from Freud's thinking strikes at the very root of psychoanalysis.

Otto Kernberg, who recently published a book on Object Relations Theory (1976), has not much in common with the former theoreticians. He attempts to integrate many psychoanalytic theories with an Object Relations Theory all his own. I quote from a recent study of Kernberg's work.

If one looks over Dr.

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