Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 6 June 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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Conquering Psychological Alienation -
How Amy Tan Looks at It

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.

The Concept of Object Relation

Sigmund Freud developed the concept 'Object Relation' to emphasise that bodily drives are satisfied through a medium, an object, on a specific locus. Melanie Klein elaborated on and extended Freud's original theory through her unique insights. Klein felt that the object that one connected to can be either part-objects or whole-objects.

Klein was an Austrian psychotherapist, who was an early pioneer in the use of psychoanlysis with children. The Kleins had moved to Budapest in 1910, and it was there that she first encountered the work of Sigmund Freud. That proved a turning point in her life and she dedicated herself to studying and practicing psychoanalysis. After the birth of her third child in 1914, she became especially interested in studying children.

Klein met Freud in person in 1917, and wrote her first paper entitled "The Development of a Child," in 1919. Klein however got into a conflict with Freud when she laid out her theory that fears and aggression were vital forces in the psychological development of a child. Freud believed that sexual force was the important factor that controlled the psyche. His daughter Anna Freud followed the footsteps of her father and later concentrated on the psychoanalysis of children. The controversy led to a split between the Freudian and Kleinian groups of psychoanalysts.

Defining Life: An Anomaly Drawn Towards Inorganic State

Phyllis Grosskurth in his book, Melanie Klein: Her world and her work (1995) describes the ideologies that Klein developed. Klein centered her work on the hypothesis proposed by Sigmund Freud, namely that life is an anomaly-that it is drawn towards an inorganic state, and contains an instinct to die. In psychological terms, 'Eros', the sustaining and uniting principle of life, also referred to as libido, is postulated to have a counterpart, Thanatos, or the 'death instinct,' which seeks to terminate and disintegrate life.

Klein examined the aggressive fantasies of hate, envy, and greed in very young children and learnt that the human psyche oscillated between Eros and Thanatos. The psychological state corresponding to Thanatos, she called the 'paranoid-schizoid' position, and the psyche dominated by Eros she called the 'depressive' position.

Object Relations Theory

The 'Object Relations Theory' was developed by Sigmund Freud, W.R.D. Fairbairn, and Melanie Klein. This theory states that the self exists only in relation to other 'objects,' which may be external or internal. The internal objects refer to the internalised versions of external objects, formed basically from early interactions with parents. It meant that the child regarded the caregiver as the first object of desire and satisfied his or her needs through that object. According to the object relations theory, there are three fundamental mental representations between the self and the other: attachment, frustration, and rejection. These representations are universal emotional states, and are the major building blocks of personality.

The central thesis in Melanie Klein's Object Relations theory was that the objects can be either part-object or whole-object, i.e. a single organ (such as a mother's breast) or a whole person (the mother). Either the mother or just the mother's breast can be the locus of satisfaction for a drive. Depending on the nature of the relationship between child and caregiver, the child can develop various disturbances, such as an excessive preoccupation with certain body parts or preoccupation with parts versus a whole person. According to Klein's theory, a situation in which a child does not receive sufficient nurturing care increases the likelihood that the child will retreat into a make-believe world filled with imaginary objects, generated in an attempt to satisfy the need for real objects (New World Encyclopedia).

Infant-Parent Relationship

Research in developmental psychology has supported the thesis that the formation of the mental world is enabled by the infant-parent interpersonal interaction failing which the child in later life becomes paranoid-schizoid or depressive. This is also related to the Attachment theory, originating in the work of John Bowlby, that considers children to have a need for a secure relationship with adult caregivers, without which normal social and emotional development will not occur.

An extreme deficit in appropriate parenting can lead to a lack of attachment behaviours in a child and may result in the rare disorder known as 'reactive attachment disorder'. The difficulty faced by the affected children involves either indiscriminate and excessive attempts to receive comfort and affection from any available adult, or extreme reluctance to initiate or accept comfort and affection, even from familiar adults, especially when distressed. All this is usually set right through psychotherapy.

The Focus of This Study: Novels of Amy Tan in the Background of Object Relations Theory

This paper seeks to study the novels of Tan against the 'Object Relation theory', and the 'Attachment theory' and examine how the mothers in Tan's novels help set right the alienation experienced by the daughters. Tan proves that a strong mother can restore the estrangements experienced by the daughters and help to guide the daughters to the intensity that life offers. This article aims at studying the ability of women to deal with the psychological issues and find solutions within themselves or through the support of other women. The daughters are encouraged to return to their objects of love and this leads them to liberty and peace.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Patterns of Indian Multilingualism | The Use of Catchy Words: A Case Study from Pakistan | Conquering Psychological Alienation - How Amy Tan Looks at It | I`gbo` Verbs of Communication | Honorifics and Speech Levels in Meiteiron | Social Functions of Metaphor - A Case Study Applying Tamil and Telugu Examples | Pragmatic Approaches and Models of Linguistic Politeness | Emerging Paradigms in Language Communication in India and Their Impact on the Corporate Competencies | Role of Encoding Temporal Fine Structure Cues in Time Compressed Word Recognition | Negotiating Boundaries: Arab-American Poetry and the Dilemmas of Dual Identity | The Role of Self-Directed Learning Strategy in Higher Education | Attitudes toward Women Expressed in the Speech of Male College Students | Teachers' Professional Development in ELT at Tertiary Level: ELTR Project of the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan - A Case Study | The Changing Image of Women in Indian Writing in English - A Study of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things | The Administration of the East India Company: A History of Indian Progress: Native Education | Teaching English Language and Literature in Non-Native Context | Improving Chemmozhi Learning and Teaching - Descriptive Studies in Classical-Modern Tamil Grammar | Global Perspective of Teaching English Literature in Higher Education in Pakistan | Two Trends That Would Deface Classical-Modern Tamil - How to Reverse These Trends? | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF JUNE 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of June 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Sushil Mary Mathews, Ph.D.
Department of English
PSGR Krishnammal College for Women
Coimbatore -641004
Tamilnadu, India

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