Individuality and Ideology in British Object Relations Theory  book cover
1st Edition

Individuality and Ideology in British Object Relations Theory

ISBN 9781138333154
Published May 10, 2021 by Routledge
178 Pages

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Book Description

Following the work of prominent object relations theorists, such as Fairbairn, Suttie and Winnicott, Gal Gerson explores the correlation between analytical theory and intellectual environment in two ways. He notes the impact that the British object relations school had on both psychology and wider culture, and suggests that the school’s outlook involved more than a clinical choice.

Gerson first interprets the object relations model as a political theory that completes a certain internal development within liberalism. He later outlines the relationship between the analytical theory and the historical setting in which it formed and took root. By engaging with these questions, Gerson demonstrates the deeper structure and implications of object relation theory for social philosophy. This allows him to answer questions such as: ‘What kind of social arrangements do we endorse when we accept object relations theory as a fair description of mind?’; ‘What beliefs about power, individuality, and household structure do we take in? What do we give up when doing so?’; and, lastly, ‘What does it say about contemporary advanced societies that they have taken in much of the theory’s content?’

Proposing a novel rethinking of human nature, Individuality and Ideology in British Object Relations Theory provides much-needed insight into how this school of psychoanalytic theory has impacted contemporary social and political life.

Table of Contents


1. Individual interiors and the liberal order

2. Love against hate: Ian Suttie and Jane Suttie

3. Ronald Fairbairn and the legacy of Prussian idealism

4. Donald Winnicott: Transition to liberty

5. Play in the open society: Winnicott and Popper

6. Jessica Benjamin and the consequences of maternal agency

7. Conclusion

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Gal Gerson teaches political theory and the history of political thought at the University of Haifa, Israel.


"What could be timelier than a book that illuminates the path from maternal holding and caretaking to active citizenship, peaceful civilizations, and the promotion of redistributive social policies?"

Michael A. Diamond, Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Organization Studies, University of Missouri

"Gerson usefully illuminates the often obscured ethico-political vision underpinning competing schools of psychodynamic thought and practice—specifically, their underlying patriarchal or matriarchal orientation."

Don Carveth, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social & Political Thought, Senior Scholar, York University