Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality

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Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personalit

Psychoanalytic Studies
of the Personality
Since publication of this volume in 1952, W. RD. Fairbairn’s focus on object relations has reoriented psychoanalysis by placing the child’s need for relationships at the centre of development. His object relations theory elaborated a model of psychic structure built upon the internalization and modification of experience with parents and other people of central importance to the child, and showed how the self or ego handles the dissatisfactions inevitable in all relationships through internalization of the object, followed by ego splitting and repression of painful internal object relations.
Fairbairn’s work has been the starting point for Bowlby’s work on attachment,
Guntrip and Sutherland’s writing on the self, Dicks contribution to understanding marriage, Kernberg’s treatment of severe personality disorders, and Mitchell’s relational theory. Fairbairn’s ideas have become central to psychoanalysis they often pass for truisms, making it hard to remember a time when the individual’s need for relationships was not seen as the central focus of development and of therapy.
This classic collection of papers, available for the first time in paperback,
has anew introduction by David E. Scharff and Ellinor Fairbairn Birtles which traces the origins of Fairbairn’s thought and outlines its modern relevance,
setting Fairbairn’s work in a context in which it can be newly appreciated.
David E. Scharff, MD is the Director of the Center for the Study of Object
Relations, Washington, DC. and former Director of the Washington School of
Psychiatry. He is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Uniformed Services
University of the Health Sciences and at Georgetown University Medical School and a Teaching Analyst in the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. Ellinor
Fairbairn Birtles, the daughter of the late W. RD. Fairbairn, is Director of
SITA Technology Ltd.

With anew introduction by David E. Scharff, MD and
Ellinor Fairbairn Birtles
London and New York

First published 1952
by Tavistock Publications Limited
in collaboration with
Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited
First published in paperback in 1994
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis group
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2001.
© 1952 W.R.D. Fairbairn
All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reprinted or
reproduced or utilized
in any form or by any electronic,
mechanical, or other means, now known or
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information
storage or retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress
ISBN 0-415-05174-6 (hbk)
ISBN 0-415-10737-7 (pbk)
ISBN X Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 0-203-17845-9 (Glassbook Format)

position in the field of psychoanalysis is a special one and one of great interest. Living hundreds of miles from his nearest colleagues,
whom he seldom meets, has great advantages, and also some disadvantages.
The main advantage is that, being subject to no distraction or interference, he has been able to concentrate entirely on his own ideas as they develop from his daily working experience. This is a situation that conduces to originality, and Dr. Fairbairn’s originality is indisputable. On the other hand, it requires very special powers of self-criticism to dispense with the value of discussion with coworkers, who in the nature of things must be able to point out considerations overlooked by a lonely worker or to modify the risk of any one-sided train of thought. It is not for me to forestall the judgement that will be passed on the contents of the book, but I maybe allowed to express the firm opinion that it will surely prove extremely stimulating to thought.
If it were possible to condense Dr. Fairbairn’s new ideas into one sentence, it might run somewhat as follows. Instead of starting, as Freud did, from stimulation of the nervous system proceeding from excitation of various erotogenous zones and internal tension arising from gonadic activity, Dr. Fairbairn starts at the centre of the personality,
the ego, and depicts its strivings and difficulties in its endeavour to reach an object where it may find support. Dr. Fairbairn has elaborated this theme in the pages that follow, and he has worked out its implications both biologically in regard to the problems of instinct and psychologically in the baffling interchange of external and internal objects. All this constitutes afresh approach in psychoanalysis which should lead to much fruitful discussion.


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