Object relations psychoanalysis as political theory

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This article examines the political contents of object relations psychoanalysis, a theory that perceives dependence as the natural state of all humans. Unlike the views advanced by the classical state-of-nature models of Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau, object relations perceives humans in their original state as already grouped and driven by an urge to associate. Company (rather than privacy, property, or political participation) stands out as the basic right, and all the other rights follow on it as instruments for fulfilling it. The primacy of care lends itself to the justification of distributive measures meant to bolster family cohesion and individual confidence at the expense of the open market. The theory is therefore compatible with the premises of the social-democratic welfare state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-794
Number of pages26
JournalPolitical Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Bowlby, J.
  • Fairbairn, W. R. D.
  • Object relations
  • Social democracy
  • State of nature
  • Suttie, I. D.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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