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Object Relations, Affects, and Drives: Toward a New Synthesis

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This paper summarizes my efforts to develop a contemporary psychoanalytic theory of drives, integrating this theory with contemporary affect theory and with psychoanalytic object relations theory. It proposes, in essence, that affects are the primary motivations of behavior, that they include a fundamental communicative function in the infant/caregiver relationship, and that it is the integration of, respectively, positive and negative affects that will crystallize libido and aggression as supraordinate motivational systems or drives. At the same time, insofar as peak affect states organize the internalization of the relationship between self and objects in the form of affectinvested self and object representations, affects are also contributing fundamentally to the organization of an internalized world of object relations, eventually consolidated in the tripartite structure of the mind.

This proposed interrelationship of affects, self- and object representations, and drives rejects the assumption of incompatibility of drive theory and object relations theory and provides potential bridging functions with the neurobiology of affects.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center; Columbia Uiversity Center for Psycoanalytic Training and Research

Publication date: December 20, 2001

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