A summary of The use of an object and Relating through Identification-1969
In this paper D. W. Winnicott discusses the importance of the child’s ego relatedness. Winnicott moves away from the Freudian instinct satisfaction to the whole ego-relatedness of the child. He discusses the transformation from object-relating to object-use. (it’s important to note that ‘use’ is not being used in the sense of exploitation but rather as a positive phenomenon of being able to conceptualize the object as external.)This transformation Winnicott, explains is the foundation of reality-testing and relates to external objects as an independent entity. Once there is there is the establishment of shared reality the subject can relate to the outside object as a separated ‘not –me’ object and thus object ‘use’ takes place. The term object-use refers to the child being able to relate to the object as an external phenomenon and as a resourceful environmental reality independent of the child’s subjectivity. The term object-relating refers to the symbiotic relationship that the child has with the environment as if it is his own projection and his creation and thus the environment is a part of him. The child begins life with ‘object relating’, as if the mother is his creation and an extension of his subjective self. There is no responsibility or capacity for concern for others because they’re all perceived as a part of him. The child begins life with the primary narcissistic beliefs and the unconscious belief in his omnipotent self. The child feels as if he nurtures himself and as if his mother is part of him. When the child is in this phase reality is dependent on the child’s fantasy and his illusions. With the good enough mothering and attuned holding environment the child’s ego develop a sense of subjectivity and reality; he develops the capacity to see things as ‘not-me’. With gradually frustration the child begins to differentiate self from other and reality begins to exist in its own right. Then the child begins to ‘use’ the object as an external phenomenon. The transformation from objects leaving the subjective reality to the external reality happens with the in the transitional space and with the ‘killing off’ of the child. The child kills the subjective-object and thus it begins to exist without him. The symbolic killing is done with the child’s anger and hatred toward the object which then starts to become it independent entity. Perhaps the gradual frustration triggers the anger which ‘kills away’ the object, which then begins to survive in its own right. Winnicott uses the term ‘Object Survival’ to capture this transformation that the object goes through. Winnicott explains that in order for the child to be able to ‘use’ the object as a reality, object survival is necessary. The objects need to make sure not to retaliate against child in order for the separation to be successful. Retaliation just increases its dependency on the object and doesn’t allow the separation to take place. This transformation happens in the psychoanalytic session of the borderline and psychotic patient as well. The analysand perceives the analyst as a part of himself and as a subjective phenomenon. As long as the analyst is part of the internal world of the patient ‘no real change’ can take place because the entire process is part of him. Only after the client becomes angry and is able to kill off the analyst, and the analyst survives without retaliating, is the patient able to see the analyst as an independent entity and thus he is able to become an external reality. And then reality testing is returned to normal. This process of going from object relating to object use is fundamental for the child to establish the me not-me differentiation. The confirmation of the whole me and the not me gives the child the ability to concern and the ability to test reality. The transformation takes place with the anger and killing of the object which allows the object to become real. Once reality is established the child can love and enjoy the real and true reality. The child can feel real and feel the realness of the environment. Realness is key in the separation-individuation.