Freud's Psycho-Analysis and Psychoanalytic Object Essay

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For a person working through a shadowy part of him- or herself, the goal can be as generic as better self-knowledge and self-management.

Working through must be recognized as a process, but also as a process with a certain goal in mind. To successfully work through any part of the self, it must also be recognized that certain unpleasant elements may be uncovered before the goal is reached. The therapist must be able to help the client adhere to the process.

Stages of Development

According to object relations theory, human development entails a lifelong effort to break away from the dependency established in early childhood in order to reach the adult states of mutuality and exchange. The goal is to break the limitations of dependency in order to reach the autonomy that might be expected from the stage of adulthood. If a person does not break away from these bonds, it leads to psychopathology.

Within the framework of this theory, the process towards the goal of adult autonomy is referred to as separation-individuation. From birth, the infant's first experience of separation-individuation is referred to as "autism" or withdrawal. During the first three years of life, this is followed by symbiosis, which is generally established with the mother or other caregiver. As the child grows to a less dependent state, further separation occurs from the primary caregiver, after which individuation takes place, also from the primary caregiver. After these stages, the chid then achieves "object constancy." This means that the child is able to internalize the primary caregiver and hold the image in his or her memory. At this stage, identity formation also takes place, which means a blueprint is formed for the identity or personality of the individual the child is to become. The healthy formation of object constancy and identity are vital for healthy functioning later in life.

This theory focuses upon the general functioning of the human being in relationships with "objects" or others. As the childe matures, object constancy and identity continue to strengthen and works along with the separation and individuation processes to provide the growing child with a sense of self as separate from others, but also in relationship with others.

The model proposed by the object relations theory is much more focused upon the development of mental processes than processes that relate to the body. Of course sexual functioning does play a role in cases of sexual abuse, where it could lead to trauma and the halt of development. However, it is primarily a mental model. Freud, on the other hand, uses sexual processes to describe the development stages of the child. From birth to 1 or 2 years old, the child for example focuses upon the mouth as erogenous zone. The physical relationship with the primary caregiver is primarily oral as well. The child derives pleasure from suckling, and also explores his or her environment by chewing and tasting items. The ego and body also develop during this stage.

The second stage, from 1-3 years, is anal, where bowel and bladder elimination are the primary physical concerns of the child. Here toilet training features primarily in the child's physical as well as ego development.

From 3-6 years old, the child's development is the phallic stage, where boys potentially develop the Oedipus complex and girls the Electra complex. The Electra complex did not originate with Freud, but was added only later by Jung. During this stage, the genitals become the primary erogenous zone, although gratification does not take the form of adult sexuality. Children however become increasingly aware of their own bodies, those of other children, and those of their parents as well. This is derived from Freud's observations of children who play "doctor" with each other or asking their parents about their genitals.

Freud's theories therefore appear to focus excessively upon the physical and sexual. As psychoanalysis was in its infancy at the time, one might understand this paradigm based on the fact that Freud could only comment on what he could see. Naturally he related his observations to the physical; not yet having the equipment or knowledge to examine the mental processes behind physical behavior. Nevertheless, both theories contribute significantly to the general understanding of…[continue]

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