Winnicotts theory of object relationship

Donald Woods Winnicott | Institute of Psychoanalysis

winnicotts theory of object relationship

TOWARDS AN OBJECT-RELATIONS THEORY OF CONSUMERISM. transitional object, DW Winnicott, object-relations psychoanalysis, material culture. Thus, at the core of Winnicott's contribution is the parent-infant relationship. The young infant's use of a 'transitional object', Winnicott suggested, was the way in It has been suggested that this theory is Winnicott's final theory of aggression . We discuss Klein's, Winnicott's, and Mahler's object relational theories relevant for creating and maintaining the ma- ture love relationship. The concept of love.

Fairbairn's "moral defense" is the tendency seen in survivors of abuse to take all the bad upon themselves, each believing he is morally bad so his caretaker object can be regarded as good. This is a use of splitting as a defense to maintain an attachment relationship in an unsafe world. Fairbairn introduced a four-year-old girl with a broken arm to a doctor friend of his. He told the little girl that they were going to find her a new mommy.

winnicotts theory of object relationship

If she accepted her mother was bad, then she would be bereft and alone in the world, an intolerable state. She used the Moral Defense to make herself bad, but preserve her mother's goodness. Kleinian object relations theory[ edit ] Unconscious phantasy [ edit ] Klein termed the psychological aspect of instinct unconscious phantasy deliberately spelled with 'ph' to distinguish it from the word 'fantasy'.

Phantasy is a given of psychic life which moves outward towards the world. These image-potentials are given a priority with the drives and eventually allow the development of more complex states of mental life. I want to suggest that the origin of thought lies in this process of testing phantasy against reality; that is, that thought is not only contrasted with phantasy, but based on it and derived from it.

winnicotts theory of object relationship

In Bion's terms, the phantasy image is a preconception that will not be a thought until experience combines with a realization in the world of experience.

The preconception and realization combine to take form as a concept that can be thought. The instinctual rooting is the preconception. The provision of the nipple provides the realization in the world of experience, and through time, with repeated experience, the preconception and realization combined to create the concept.

Mental capacity builds upon previous experience as the environment and infant interact. The first bodily experiences begin to build up the first memories, and external realities are progressively woven into the texture of phantasy.

  • Object relations theory

And these plastic images and dramatic representations of phantasy are progressively elaborated along with articulated perceptions of the external world. Introjection of the good object is also used by the ego as a defense against anxiety.

The processes of splitting off parts of the self and projecting them into objects are thus of vital importance for normal development as well as for abnormal object-relation. The effect of introjection on object relations is equally important. It comes to form a focal point in the ego and makes for cohesiveness of the ego. The introjection of the good breast provides a location where one can hide from persecution, an early step in developing a capacity to self-soothe.

Donald Woods Winnicott

Ogden [19] identifies four functions that projective identification may serve. As in the traditional Kleinian model, it serves as a defense. Projective identification serves as a mode of communication. The paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions occur in the pre-oedipal, oral phase of development.

Donald Winnicott

In contrast to Fairbairn and later Guntrip, [20] Klein believed that both good and bad objects are introjected by the infant, the internalization of good object being essential to the development of healthy ego function. Paranoid-schizoid position[ edit ] The paranoid-schizoid position is characterized by part object relationships. Part objects are a function of splitting, which takes place in phantasy. At this developmental stage, experience can only be perceived as all good or all bad.

As part objects, it is the function that is identified by the experiencing self, rather than whole and autonomous others. The hungry infant desires the good breast who feeds it. Should that breast appear, it is the good breast. If the breast does not appear, the hungry and now frustrated infant in its distress, has destructive phantasies dominated by oral aggression towards the bad, hallucinated breast.

Projection is an attempt to eject the bad in order to control through omnipotent mastery.

Donald Winnicott

Splitting is never fully effective, according to Klein, as the ego tends towards integration. The splitting and part object relations that characterize the earlier phase are succeeded by the capacity to perceive that the other who frustrates is also the one who gratifies. Schizoid defenses are still in evidence, but feelings of guilt, grief, and the desire for reparation gain dominance in the developing mind.

In the depressive position, the infant is able to experience others as whole, which radically alters object relationships from the earlier phase. It is only in the depressive position that polar qualities can be seen as different aspects of the same object. In a development which Grotstein terms the "primal split", [22]: With the awareness of the primal split, a space is created in which the symbol, the symbolized, and the experiencing subject coexist.

History, subjectivity, interiority, and empathy all become possible. In fact or phantasy, one now realizes the capacity to harm or drive away a person who one ambivalently loves. The defenses characteristic of the depressive position include the manic defenses, repression and reparation. The manic defenses are the same defenses evidenced in the paranoid-schizoid position, but now mobilized to protect the mind from depressive anxiety. As the depressive position brings about an increasing integration in the ego, earlier defenses change in character, becoming less intense and allow increasing awareness of psychic reality.

Unconscious guilt for destructive phantasies arises in response to the continuing love and attention provided by caretakers. These feelings of guilt and distress now enter as a new element into the emotion of love. They become an inherent part of love, and influence it profoundly both in quality and quantity. Omnipotence is lessened, which corresponds to a decrease in guilt and the fear of loss.

Previously, extended absences of the object the good breast, the mother was experienced as persecutory, and, according to the theory of unconscious phantasythe persecuted infant phantisizes destruction of the bad object. The good object who then arrives is not the object which did not arrive.

Likewise, the infant who destroyed the bad object is not the infant who loves the good object. In phantasy, the good internal mother can be psychically destroyed by the aggressive impulses.

It is crucial that the real parental figures are around to demonstrate the continuity of their love. In this way, the child perceives that what happens to good objects in phantasy does not happen to them in reality.

Psychic reality is allowed to evolve as a place separate from the literalness of the physical world. Through repeated experience with good enough parenting, the internal image that the child has of external others, that is the child's internal object, is modified by experience and the image transforms, merging experiences of good and bad which becomes more similar to the real object e.

In Freudian terms, the pleasure principle is modified by the reality principle. The child will develop a healthy false selfdepending on the quality of early care from the good-enough mother.

Otherwise it will develop an unhealthy false self. Initially, the carer's role is to support the illusion of a fused, undifferentiated unity.

The carer then gradually and carefully allows disillusionment where the child realizes its and it's carer's individuality. This separation happens through play and use of a transition object. Winnicott and Lacan Winnicott differs from Lacan in his use of transition objects to define the self, although Lacan also uses an external Other in the formation of the ego. He also uses a more nurturing approach in psychoanalysis.

He takes the 'mirror' as the loving gaze of the carer mother or otherwisereflecting the carer's perceptions of the baby rather than a narcissistic illusion. The ego is thus separated slowly, not sharply as with Lacan. What does the baby see when he or she looks at the mother's face?

I am suggesting that, ordinarily, what the baby sees is himself or herself.

winnicotts theory of object relationship

Winnicott urges mothers to support the child's need for connection with the mother in the this phase. Winnicott and Klein Klein saw psychic states operating at the level of unconscious phantasy and hence disconnected from the outside world. Winnicott took the view that you cannot consider the development of the child without taking into account the external environment, in particular in the varying interactions with parent figures.

He considered the detail of how the infant transitions from undifferentiated unity to independence and realization of the mother as a separate person. This is similar to Klein's depressive position. See also Winnicott, D. Transitional objects and transitional phenomena, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, The theory of the parent-child relationship, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Mirror-role of the mother and family in child development.