Object relations theory is a family therapy model that blends aspects of psychoanalytic and systems theory. It is based on the idea that people form internalized images of “objects” (important relationships in one’s life) and judge others based on these mental representations of significant others. Although this approach shares its roots with Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, Freud believed that humans are motivated chiefly by sexual and aggressive drives, whereas object relations theorists believe a fundamental motivation of human beings is to have satisfying relationships. Infants first form a relationship with their mother or caretaker, and it is this first, primary relationship that sets the stage for personality development. Thus, object relations theory stems from individual psychological roots and is bridged, via projective identification (the projection ...

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