The Philadelphia Psychotherapy Study Center

Program Overview and Philosophy

Object relations theory is a cluster of explanations about the nature of the human mind

Object relations has grown to encompass a broad spectrum of ideas concerning the origin and function of the internalized object and its fate in various contexts. Since the ego-self is inextricably bound up with the object, both are understood to form one, complementary, interlocking system of dynamic forces and influence.

Emotions fuse with object to shape the core of human experience

Thought, emotion, and fantasy are woven together to form representations of self and object that are then utilized in shaping and determining the core of human experience. Through projection and introjection constellations of self, object, emotion and fantasy become the very "stuff" of transference and counter-transference, and are therefore central to the success or failure of the therapy process.

Object relations theory offers an approach where realities of the body, group and imagination may be productively integrated to understand the forces that lead to psychic growth, and to those that oppose and counter it.

A multi-dimensional approach

Because psychoanalysis evolved through the use and understanding of myth, e.g., Oedipus, Narcissus, we include mythology as a core dimension of our therapeutic studies and reflections, and seek to integrate its enduring wisdom throughout our programs and seminars.

The benefits of study built around a multi-dimensional approach include:

  • A dynamic understanding of the structure of human emotion and thought
  • Skills to assist the therapist in the recognition and tracking of the transference and counter-transference
  • Increased empathy and containment of the vicissitudes of love and hate
  • The anchoring of the therapy process in the complex web of inner and outer experience

Group process is used to demonstrate the aliveness and power of the unconscious as it inter-penetrates all aspects of the learning experience. We are always partially "asleep" and our teaching seeks to help the student to awake to that paradox.

Originating ideas about object relations stem from the work of:

  • Sigmund Freud
  • Melanie Klein
  • Wilfred Bion
  • Donald Meltzer
  • Donald Winnicott
  • Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel
  • James Grotstein
  • Bela Grunberger
  • Ronald Fairbairn

More Information

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