Object Relations Theory

The object relations theory refers to a situation where one develops a psyche as he or she grows up. One’s relationship with others is shaped by childhood or early adulthood situations. These situations are stored as images in the subconscious. They are carried into adulthood and used to predict people’s actions and reactions in social interactions. Objects symbolically represent parts of people, people or physical items. The theory of object relations is used to treat phobias, especially those that are people-centered.

This theory was developed from the psychoanalytic theory and was greatly refined by Margaret Mahler, Melanie Klein and Karl Abraham. An external object refers to a real item or person that has all negative and positive traits that they embody, and whose emotional/expressive energy is invested upon. On the other hand, an internal object refers to the emotional and psychological expression of the person. It influences how we interact with others, especially because of the way they are viewed by it (Object Relations Theory).

Object constancy refers to the ability to know that objects cannot change because they are absent from the immediate environment. For example, most children become used to the times when parents are increasingly absent from them until they can learn to be absent from them. In the process, these children learn that people being away does not mean they have been abandoned (Fritscher, 2013). Those who do not develop object constancy are likely to have fears.

The object relations theory can be related to six episode of the second season of Modern Family known as the Halloween. Claire loves Halloween and transforms Dunphy house into a haunted one. Cameron hates the Halloween since the holiday caused him trauma while he was young. He keeps talking about his childhood memories. In addition, Phil notices that Gary, his neighbor, has had a divorce and fears that it might also happen to his family. He desperately tries to avoid those things that ended Gary’s marriage. Furthermore, he assumes that his wife’s concentration of transforming the house is an indication that she does not love him anymore. These are some of the actions that portray images that have been stored in the mind regarding past events.

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