Term Paper: Object Relation Theory

Sample Term Paper

Words 4,388

This term paper uses examples drawn from Zen Buddhism to explore the set of theories known under the umbrella of object relations and to draw links between psychology and religion.

Our relationship to the world around us as well as to the world that exists within us is a complex one and an understanding of our relationship to the internal as well as the external lies at the heart of both religion (and especially the pastoral relationship) as well as a number of other arenas, such as psychotherapy. This paper looks at the set of theories collectively known as object relations as a way of creating a framework for understanding the position of the self the universe (either the religious perspective of a theistic framework or the humanistic perspective of a psychological framework).

Object-relations theories assume that all human relationships, beginning with the very first one that we experience as a part of the mother-infant dyad, are the primary determinants of our understanding of our position in the world. These theories posit that human relationships – whether internal or intrapsychic, dyadic or group relationships – are at the core of the entire process of the development of individual identity.

How we each as individuals interpret our relationships, both singly and wholly (and on both a conscious and unconscious level) determines not only later relationships but our understanding of our place in the physical world. As we age we become less and less influenced by both relationships and that external world as we come to rely more and more on our more and more completely developed models.

Much of the process of pastoral care as well as certain other forms of discourse such as psychotherapy is an attempt to return the individual to the state of receptivity that we all originally held as children, as innocents in the world.

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