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Object Relation (Positive OR)

Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Object Relation (Positive OR)?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Object Relation (Positive OR)

Sometimes Positive Object Relations are Activated as a Defense

Negative merging is of course not the only defense against separation. Frequently one merely activates past object relations, usually ones with negative affects. Sometimes, positive object relations are activated as a defense, even positive merging. A clear example of the latter is when an individual falls in love every time he comes close to a greater experience of individuation. He is becoming more expanded, more individuated, more successful in his life, and at the height of his fullness he falls in love, and becomes embroiled in a romance that takes him away from what he needs to do to actualize his newly-attained individuation. However, more often than not, one reverts to negative merging or negative object relations. It is interesting to explore the reasons for this. The most obvious is the one implicit in the formulations of object relations theory, i.e., that positive merging and positive object relations tend to encourage separation and individuation.

The Positive Object Relation that is Not Repressed or Split Off

But there is another object relation, the positive object relation, that is not repressed or split off but is actually identified with and acted out all the time as the normal object relation that operates as you relate to the world. This object relation doesn’t feel particularly conflicted or oppositional. To see the Basic Fault, we’ll have to see this positive object relation more clearly. In fact, the perspective we are working with will expose that particular basic object relation. This is the central, basic position of the ego: so I call it the central object relation. I will explain what I mean by central object relation. We have seen the two negative object relations expressed in relationship to the father, to the mother—and, ultimately, to the breast—either as the bad, rejecting breast or the wonderful breast that is not available, either as the rejecting, hostile parent or the desired parent who is not available. These are the conflicted, painful object relations that remain mostly unconscious because it is unpleasant for us to be aware of them. They rise to consciousness in the course of our work here. The good relationship that you had with your parents also constitutes an object relation. Each of us had moments of relating with one or both parents—and, at the deepest level, with the breast—that were not so conflicted. Without this fulfilling object relation, you wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t have survived physically and emotionally. And, of course, this central positive object relation is hardest to see, although it is there and you are enacting it all of the time. Usually we can’t see or pinpoint the central object relation for what it is until we deal, to some extent, with the other, more painful object relations. The central object relation is typically not painful. In fact, we usually experience it as normal and nonconflicted, or even as good and fulfilling. So the central object relation integrates all of the good experiences you’ve had. You feel supported, loved, nourished, and wanted. It is the most basic object relation, the one you’ve engaged all of your life. We would be psychotic if we didn’t have those feelings of support and love. Things would be too painful, chaotic, and scary without that feeling of good and secure connection that nourishes and comforts us, that makes life tolerable.

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