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A critical review of object relations theory
Am J Psychiatry 1989;146:1552-1560.
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Over the past 20 years, object relations theory has broadly influenced general psychiatry. Along with its insights, the theory has brought its own conundrums. This paper provides an overview of the theory, indicating its contributions--such as a basis for individual psychotherapy of severe disorders and a more effective understanding of countertransference--and its shortcomings--such as lack of an explanation for the effects of physical and cognitive factors on object relatedness. Object relations theory fills a niche in the biopsychosocial model but is not a complete psychology for general psychiatry. Rather, it is an addition to drive theory and ego psychology within psychoanalysis.

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