Understanding Mental Objects: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Understanding Mental Objects

1st Edition

By Meir Perlow


224 pages

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pub: 1995-08-17
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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.


"… 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

Table of Contents

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.

About the Series

The New Library of Psychoanalysis

The New Library of Psychoanalysis is published by Routledge Mental Health in association with the Institute of Psychoanalysis, London.

Its purpose is to facilitate a greater and more widespread appreciation of psychoanalysis and to provide a forum for increasing mutual understanding between psychoanalysts and those in other disciplines. The series also aims to make some of the work of continental and other non-English speaking analysts more readily available to English-speaking readers, and to increase the interchange of ideas between British and American analysts.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis published its first book in 1987 under the editorship of David Tuckett, later followed by Elizabeth Bott Spillius, Susan Budd and Dana Birksted-Breen. A considerable number of Associate Editors and readers have assisted the editors.

Under the guidance of Foreign Rights Editors, a considerable number of the New Library books have been published abroad, particularly in Brazil, Germany, France, Italy, Peru, Spain and Japan.

The aim of the New Library of Psychoanalysis is to maintain the high level of scholarship of the previous series, to provide a forum for increasing understanding between psychoanalysis and other disciplines and to increase the interest of the general book-reading public in psychoanalysis.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis also aims to help the various schools of psychoanalysis to better understand each other. It has published books representing all three schools of thought in British psychoanalysis, including a particularly important work edited by Pearl King and Riccardo Steiner, expounding the intellectual and organisational controversies that developed in the British psychoanalytical Society between Kleinian, Viennese and 'middle group' analysts during the Second World War.

The New Library of Psychoanalysis has also translated and published several books by Continental psychoanalysts, and it plans in the future to continue the policy of publishing books that express as clearly as possible a variety of psychoanalytic points of view.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health