Excerpt About Central Object Relation

Student Re-enactment of the Central Object Relation

The central object relation mimics the relationship with the breast when you have been nursing for some time—your belly is getting full and feeling relaxed, your cheek is against the warm breast, and you begin to doze. That ravenous fire of passion is gone. What remains is security and contentment.
Everything’s just fine. The breast does not necessarily look all wonderful. It’s just a nice, normal breast. The breast is not idealized through the frustration. The lack of satisfaction is what makes you idealize the object. The exciting breast before you consume it is idealized, but the real breast as it nourishes you loses that shine. Although it’s not all that yummy, it’s not bad either. It has milk and is soft and warm. That nourishing breast is called the ideal object because it’s the good mommy that comforts and takes care of you, it’s the good daddy that supports and listens to you, it’s the friend, the teacher, or the God that sees and understands you.
Ultimately, the student reenacts the central object relation with the good teacher or the good work. So for a long time the student is satisfied sitting there with mouth open to receive the teaching. When the teacher says, “Get to work,” the student responds, “Where’s the breast? If I go, I can’t eat any more. I have to go and get my own food? That’s terrible. I’m abandoned and alone.” You experience the disruption of that object relation as the loss of that comforting and nourishing other.
Another way we hold on to the central object relation is to reenact it by identifying with either side of it. On one side of it, you’re the little kid, relaxed and happy, with Daddy and Mommy around, your teacher or God taking care of you, essence pouring into you, and you’re feeling content. The loss of that object relation will be like the loss of the breast. On the other side, you could be the giving, nourishing breast, and see other people as needing to be taken care of and nourished and supported. Understanding this perspective means also the loss of that position. To be a real human being, mature and down to business, means that you can’t only be that nourishing, giving breast, doing everything for the other person. You could lose the central object relation from either end. In both cases, the loss of the object relation means the loss of the comfort, the connection, the security, the support, the nourishment, the fulfillment, and the love that is the chief effect of the central object relation.

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