Bulgarian Journal of Psychiatry, 2019; 4(4):48-55


Svetoslav Atmadzhov, Rumyana Krumova-Pesheva

Sofia University “Sv. Kliment Ohridski”


Abstract. Ronald Fairbairn is one of the most prominent theoreticians in the school of object relations. He develops original concepts that differ greatly from those of leading scientists in the psychoanalytic community. He changes the paradigm of beliefs at the time from instinctive-structural to relational aspects in the field of psychodynamics and psychopathology. His ideas make a significant impact on a considerable number of important psychotherapists and theoreticians. Owing to his innovativeness and perhaps the severity of the divorce of his ideas with contemporary thought, Fairbairn was often criticised by different authors like Abenheimer, Klein, Balint, Sutherland, etc. Some of his concepts were in great contrast with what was believed then, and that was the reason they did not receive the merit they deserve. Despite the critical moments, his ideas are an extremely important step ahead in psychoanalysis. They are an endeavour to appreciate the importance of the relational side of psychological processes in development. Maybe his most important contribution is that through his theories, he stresses on the psychoanalysis and leads it to the understanding of humans’ earliest experiences and needs, most of all the need for relationships. This article aims to shed light on some aspects of the critique of Fairbairn’s structural theory as well as to assess the compatibility of his postulates with our contemporary understanding of the individual’s inner world and the implications this might make for the therapeutic practice.

Key words: psychoanalysis, object relations

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