1st Edition

Understanding Mental Objects

By Meir Perlow Copyright 1995

    The ways in which an individual (the subject) relates to and perceives other people (his or her 'objects') has always been a preoccupation of psychoanalysis and in recent years a plethora of concepts has grown up in the literature. In this ground-breaking study, Meir Perlow sets out to clarify the changing meanings of the different concepts from context to context, discussing in depth the theoretical issues underlying them.

    The book begins with an historical survey of how mental objects have been understood in the various 'schools' of psychoanalysis as they have developed. These include Freud and his associates, the object-relations approaches of Klein, Fairbairn and Bion, orientations derived from ego psychology such as those of Schafer and Kernberg, and the self orientation of Winnicott and Kohut. In Part Two the author discusses the conceptual and clinical issues involved in the major differences between the concepts. Finally, in Part Three he delineates three basic meanings of the concepts of mental objects as they have emerged in the literature and shows how they are related to ongoing issues in contemporary psychoanalysis.

    This long overdue clarification of a complex area, with its wide ranging and imaginative grasp of the different theories about objects, will be an invaluable reference for all psychoanalysts and psychologists.

    Preface. Introduction. Part One: Historical Survey. Freud and his Associates. Object-related Orientations. Orientations in Ego Psychology. Self Orientations. Part Two: Major Theoretical Issues. Origins of the Mental Object - internal or External. Status of the Mental Object - Experiential or Non-experiential. The Mental Object and Motivation. The Mental Object as a Development Capacity. The Position of the Mental Object Vis-a-vis the Self. Responsibility - The Clinical Issue. Part Three: A Conceptual Analysis. Mental Objects as Representations (Or Schemas). Mental Objects as Phantasies. Mental Objects as Developmental Capacities. Conclusion. Notes. Bibliography. Index.


    Meir Perlow Ph.D., is Senior Clinical Psychologist at Eitanim Psychiatric Hospital, Jerusalem. He was formerly a lecturer in psychoanalytic theory at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and now conducts a variety of seminars on psychoanalytic subjects.

    "... it a reliable and illuminating guide through thickets of psychoanalytic metapsychology ..." - Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

    "Readers will find this book's economy and clarity commendable. The issues raised have stimulated much thought in this reader about theory and practice and this must, I think, mean that the writer has succeeded in his objective." - International Journal of Psychoanalysis

    "... there is little doubt that this study represents a major contribution to the field." - Joseph Sandler, Late Emeritus Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London, UK

    "...a reliable and illuminating guide through the thickets of psychoanalytic metapsychology." - Susan Budd, British Journal of Psychotherapy