"Object relations theory is a modern adaptation of psychoanalytic theory that places less emphasis on the drives of aggression and sexuality as motivational forces and more emphasis on human relationships as the primary motivational force in life" (Klee 2007). The object relations theorists, as Freud suggested, believe that we are relationship seeking rather than pleasure seeking. It emphasises the interpersonal relations and "object" is a significant person who is the target or object of another's intentions whereas "relations" means interpersonal relations and "suggests the residues of past relationships that affect a person in the present" (Object Relations Theory. 2007). Comprehending the theory in relation to self-harm, which "is when someone deliberately hurts or injures him or herself," has been the focal point of this paper. (What is self-harm 2008).
Object relations theory is a "theory of object relations developed in the UK by the British-based Austrian psychoanalyst Melanie Klein (1882-1960), the English psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott (1896-1971), the Scottish psychoanalyst W. Ronald D. Fairbairn (1889-1964), the British-based Hungarian psychiatrist Michael Balint (1896-1970), and others" (Object relations theory. 2001).
In the analysis of the relationships between individuals and between an individual to himself, the object relations theory has made remarkable contributions and this theory is all about relationships between people, especially within a family. One of its "basic tenet is that we are driven to form relationships with others and that failure to form successful early relationships leads to later problems" (Object relations theory. 2007). More importantly, this theory is concerned with the relationship of a subject with its internalised objects as well as externalised objects. Though, the idea of object relations was invented and developed by Karl Abraham, it was Melaine Klein who developed it into a modern theory. The object relations theory may be understood as the adaptation of the Freudian Psychoanalytic theory, which "provided a radically new approach to the analysis and treatment of "abnormal" adult behaviour" (Quigley 1998).
However, this theory is much an extended and developed to the Freudian psychoanalytical theory as it emphasises more of a social system of relationships. Therefore, "Object Relations Theory offers a much more social view of psychological development than does the earlier Freudian account, seeing individuals as formed in relation to, and seeking connection with, other individuals. Instead of Freud's notion of libidinal stages of child development, it emphasizes the gradual differentiation of the self through the formation of reflections of experiences of real people from earliest infancy, or in other words of internal 'objects" (Object Relations Theory. 2001). The object relations theory is based on "the assumption that the psychological life of the human being is created in and through relations with other human beings. Thus, the object relations theorist distinguishes between the physical and the psychological birth of the individual" (Object Relations Theory. 2001).
Whereas the physical birth of a human being happens over a period of time,