Pioneers in Object Relations Clinical Thinking:
Harry J. S. Guntrip (1901-1975)
“Quoting Freud in psychoanalysis is beginning to last to be like quoting Newton in physics. Both men are assured
of that permanent place in the history of thought that belongs to the genius pioneer. It is not the function of the
pioneer to say the last word but to say the first word...”
“...traced the struggle throughout Freud's work between the physicalistic type of scientific thought in which he
had been trained and the need for a new type of psychodynamic thinking that he was destined to create. The first,
or process theory, approach was enshrined in his instinct theory, which still persists even now in much of
psychoanalytic terminology and writing: although his original quantitative theory of pleasure and unpleasure
as physical processes determining all human action occurs now as no more than an occasional echo of the past.
The second, or personal, approach became enshrined in his Oedipus complex theory, with its implications that it
is what takes place between parents and children that primarily determines the way personality develops; and
in his transference theory of treatment, that the object-relations of childhood have to be lived through again
in therapeutic analysis if the patient is to grow from them. Only object-relational thinking can deal with the
problem of meaning and motivation that determines the dealings of persons with another, and the way they
change and grow in the process. The history of psychoanalysis is the history of the struggle for emancipation,
and the slow emergence, of personal theory or object-relational thinking.”
“People are being culturally conditioned today to accept the combination of sexuality and violence as natural in
a way that was never possible before the invention of the modern mass media of communication.”
“...(B)iology and psychodynamics must be both distinguished and properly related, instead of mixed and confused.
Then psychoanalysis can attend to its own proper business, studying the unique individual person growing in the
medium of interpersonal relations.”
“What life is about is the urge to develop our creative potentials for love and work, with and for each other.
This is arises in human response to the genuine security and valuation others have provided for us and permits
and encourages us to pass on to others these priceless conditions of enjoyable and meaningful living. A
psychoanalyst should be someone who can use his training, experience, and humanity to do this for those
in dire need; his real reward is to grow with his patients. This is what life is about, in various ways, for all of us.”
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