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Object Constancy

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Object Constancy

Development of Object Love

The second quality is Love. Object relations theory contends that object love, which is love for a separate and differentiated human person, does not develop until object constancy is attained. In fact, it is part of the definition of object constancy that when it is achieved the individual has the capacity to love another as an individual in his or her own right. According to our perception, Love as a state of the essential Being exists from the beginning of life. Babies exist in this state of Being a great deal of the time. It is this state that we are perceiving when we see a baby as cute and adorable. This aspect is experienced as a gentle and soft presence, that feels fluffy, pure and sweet. One feels the affect of “liking,” of finding pleasure in something or somebody. The development that is called “object love” in object relations theory is simply the channeling of this state by restricting it to one human object. In other words, one directs this aspect of one’s Being to a differentiated other. At the beginning this state exists as the child’s beingness. He feels Love regardless of who or what is there. It is not directed to anything or anybody; it is a state of Being.

Final Phase of Ego Development

The separation-individuation process leads ultimately to the development of the ego as a structure. Its final phase is that of object constancy, when the ego is formed and established as a permanent existence, separate from the environment (mother), and other people are seen to have separate existences. Finally, the ego is structured and developed, and the child permanently experiences himself as having a separate identity.

The Capacity to Relate

Object constancy is usually defined as the capacity to see and relate to the other as a person in his or her own right. This capacity is part of the quality of the Personal Essence, of being personal and able to make direct personal contact. The sense of individuality is the normal feeling of the experience of the Personal Essence, as we discussed in Part Three. Thus the Personal Essence satisfies the conditions of individuation as defined by object relations theory. Moreover, it satisfies them on a much more real and profound level of experience, that of Being.

The Core Implication of Object Constancy

When one feels more separate as the individuality of ego one is still the self-image, and the self-image always feels the mother’s image nearby. This self-image is formed from past object relations. So each constituent self representation is really one part of a pair, the other part is that of the object-representation. So regardless how separate this self-representation is from the object-representation, it is always related to it, always in relation to it. This is the core implication of object constancy. Self-image cannot be seen in vacuum. It is always one end of an object relation. So the self-image, and the individuality based on it, are never completely free of the mother’s image. Separation indicates more distance and more boundaries, and more disengagement, but never complete aloneness. However, when one experiences oneself as Being, one is no longer the self-image. One’s sense of being a human individual is now based not on the internalized self-image, but on pure beingness, beyond all images of mind. This means that this new sense of oneself is not in relation to mother’s image. It is not dependent on past object relations, and is not a reliving of them. This is the autonomy of Being, that we discussed in detail in a previous chapter. The mother’s image is completely irrelevant to this sense of being oneself. It is in fact in a completely different dimension of experience. One is living on the Being level, while mother’s image and all mental representations are on the mind level. These representations are experienced as mere thoughts, concepts, images and of no fundamental reality.

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