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Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Object

Description | Discussion | See also



The Object is something to which a Subject relates. This can be a person, a physical thing or a concept.

Objects are created through splitting, projection and introjection.

External Objects are things external to the person, typically other people.

Internal Objects are things inside the person, either imagined or internal representations of an external object (which may vary significantly from the represented external object). Internal objects achieve permanence with repetition and strong emotional associations.

A Part Object is a part of a person or other object, such as a hand or breast. Part objects can be extrapolated to represent the whole object.

A Whole Object is a complete object, usually another person.

A Self Object occurs where the self and an object merge. This is called 'confluence' in Gestalt therapy.

Object constancy occurs when a relationship with an external object is stable over a period of time.

A Good Object is one which satisfies our needs and desires. Good objects are given love, affection and liking.

A Bad Object is one which frustrates or otherwise does not support our needs and desires. Bad objects are hated and despised.


Freud originally used the term 'object' to mean anything that an infant drives toward in order to satisfy needs. Freudian drives can be are of two types: libidinal and aggressive.

Klein, Winnicott and others took the view that the drive was more towards relationship with others, and that other people are primary 'objects' of desire and attention.

Objects can include feelings and ideas. In a primitive way, infants will assume these as being concrete things, equating internal feeling with external feeling. This allows them to have substance and be projected.

In grammar, the object in a sentence is acted on by the verb. Thus, in 'the cat sat on the mat', the cat is the subject and the mat is the object.

See also

Klein, Object Relations Theory


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