Object Relations Theory
Melbourne (Victoria, Australia), 1878.
Edinburgh (Scotland, United Kingdom), October 3, 1941.
by Annalisa Oliverio & Gabriele Romeo
Ernest Henry Connell was born into a wealthy family of wholesale grocery traders, of evangelical belief and Melbourne residents. Connell’s life and thought were strongly influenced by his strongs religious beliefs, which he mantained throughout his life. After completing his high school studies, he began working in the family firm, of which he later became the director, charge he will keep, even after his transfer to England, until his death.
In April 1900 he married Mary Lillian Oldham (? - ?) in Melbourne. In 1903 couple’s first son, Ernest Oldham Connell (?, 1903 - ?, 1986), was born. In 1907, couple’s second son Ian Oldham Connell, was born in Caulfield (then a separate municipality, now part of Melbourne). Ian, as well as his brother, followed his parents when they moved to England; in 1938, while maintaining his residency in England, he began to travel frequently to Australia, to help his father manage the family business, having integrated into it. He married Margaret Sheila MacLagan Roddick (?, June 1905 - Springvale, then a separate municipality, now part of Melbourne, April 1983) in Saint Andrew’s church, in Edinburgh in 1931. They had a daughter, Margaret Ada Roddick Connell (? - ?). Ian died in 1970 at Springvale.
In 1910 Connell read a Carl Gustav Jung’s publication: "Conflictsof the childish soul", and he was struck by it. He decided to give a turnto his life, take a medical degree, and then become a psychoanalyst; if he hadprobably followed his basic impulse, he would go to Switzerland to carry outhis studies there, but having already 38 years, graduating in a universitywhere a language unknown to him was spoken, that is German, it seemed an ardousundertaking. He decided to travel to Edinburgh, the city of which the Connell’sfamily originally was, before emigrating to Australia and where he still hadrelatives, arriving in 1912; Here he enrolled in the University of Edinburgh’sMedical School. The University of Edinburgh was and still is a prestigiousBritish university, whose foundation was requested by the City Council ofEdinburgh to King James VI of Scotland, the future King James I of England(Edinburgh, 19 June 1566 - Goffs Oak, East England, England, 27 March 1625)which issued an authorisation decree on 14 April 1582. For its constructionwere used funds deriving from a legacy of bishop and theologian Robert Reid(1496, Clackmannan, Scotland - Dieppe, Normandy, 6 September 1558). Theuniversity, initially endowed just with the degree course in law, opened inOctober 1583. The Medical School, still at the forefront both in the field ofdidactics and research in its field, founded in 1726, it is the oldest medicalschool in the United Kingdom and was one of the first, among the English -speaking countries, to admit women to this kind of studies.
During the fourth conference of the International PsychoanalyticalAssociation, held at the Bayerische Hof, a luxury hotel in Munich on 7th and8th September 1913, Jung, against Freud’s opinion, held a report on"psychological types", which will then become constituent elements ofhis theory of personality. He hoped for a triumph so that he could givepsychoanalysis his imprint, margining Freud and destroying all his work.However, the subject presented, was judged by the overwhelming majority of thepresent, and especially by the leaders of the psychoanalytic movement, not onlyabsolutely unrelated to the themes of psychoanalysis but even incompatible withthe same and probably more suitable for the horoscopes column of a newspaperfor housewives than at a large international conference. Jung’s clumsy attemptcaused the final break with Freud who never spoke to him in person. In July1914 Jung resigned as president and associate of the IPA and the OrtsgruppeZürich der Internationalen Psychoanalytischen Vereinigung. Connell, who hadapproached the psychoanalysis just for Jung, was very sorry but, since he wasin England, that England was the nation in which Ernest Jones dominatedpsychoanalytic field, that to say Ernst Jones was the same as saying SigmundFreud, that he was only in the second year of degree studies and that it wouldtake another 4 years to become a doctor, he decided to reconsider it aftergraduating.
While studying to become a physician, he approached the Paraphreudianmovement which was a line of thought that was inspired by the Freudian doctrineintegrated with spiritual concepts of a religious and philosophical - spiritualnature of Jungian tendency, being most adherents to this current of thoughtdirect pupils or, anyway, Jung’s followers and that however, at the same time,they didn’t feel to pass sic et simpliciter into Jungian’s field after thebreak occurred between him and Freud.The Paraphreudian doctrine accepted the existence of the unconscious and thetheory of the intrapsyic conflict, but he argued that the succession of eventswas attributable to the Divine will rather than to psychic determinism, thatlibido was not sexual but more generically an indeterminate energy that couldhave been used for any bodily and/or mental activity, that psychopathology wasin fact a soul’s disease and not a psyche’s disease and that its causes hadlittle or nothing to do with sexuality, but rather with a spiritual crisis.This line of thought, typically English, borned after the Jungian schism of1914, increased in importance until the first post - war period and then beganto decrease before the Second World War, disappearing with the end of it.
Connell graduated in medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1918 and, considering the events, decided to continue into Freudian’s field, for which he went to London to undergo a didactic analysis with Ernst Jones, obtaining the inscription to the British Psychoanalytical Society as a member and training analyst in 1920. The history of the British Psychoanalytical Society is intertwined with the history of English psychoanalysis. It was born on 30 October 1913 on the initiative of Ernst Jones, under the name of London Psychoanalytical Society. The number of founding members shows a lack of information: Jones communicates to Freud in letter n. 148 of November 3, 1913, that the founders are 9 but does not list the names. While in the announcement appeared on the Internationale Zeitschrift für Ärztliche Psychoanalyse, vol. 2, p. 114, March/April 1914 it is said that they are 15 and bring back the list. According to this source they were: Douglas Bryan who was elected Vice-President, Montague David Eder, David Forsyth, Bernard Hart, Ernst Jones, who was elected president, Constance Long, Maurice Nicoll, Maurice Wright, all London residents while others were coming from other parts of the world and specifically Henry Watson Smith from Beirut (Beirut, then France, now Lebanon), William Graham from Belfast (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom), Berkeley Hill from Bombay (today Mumbay, Maharashtra, then British Empire, now India), William said Leslie Mackenzie from Edinburgh, David Waters Sutherland from Jubbalpoore (now Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, then British Empire, now India), Frédéric Joseph Arthur Davidson from Toronto (Ontario, Canada), Henry Devine (Wakefield, Yorkshire and Humber, England). The beginnings of this society were problematic; The first meeting of the company was characterised by a few participants as the not-London residents only occasionally participated in the company’s life, while at the same time with their own foundation, it was the scene of a clash between Freudians and Jungians, following the results of the IV convention of the International Psychoanalytical Association held at the Bayerische Hof, a luxury hotel in Munich, on September 7th and 8th, 1913. Here Jung attempted a coup d’état to possess the IPA; against Freud’s opinion, in fact, he held a report on "psychological types", which will then become constituent elements of his personality’s theory. He hoped for a triumph so that he could give psychoanalysis his imprint, margining Freud and Abraham and destroying all their work. However, the argument presented was judged by the overwhelming majority of the present, and especially by the leaders of the psychoanalytic movement, not only absolutely unrelated to the themes of psychoanalysis but even incompatible with the same and probably better suited to the horoscopes column of a newspaper for housewives than to a large international conference. Jung’s clumsy attempt caused the final break with Freud who never spoke to him in person. In July 1914 Jung considering losing the battle, he resigned from the International Psychoanalytical Association, acronym IPA, with his followers. Jones, of close Freudian faith, it did not want to leave the London Psychoanalytical Association to the Jungians, for which it unleashed a violent internal conflict for the company’s possession. As this clash was at its peak, First World War broke out on 28 July 1914. The newborn society found itself having to suspend relations with the mother house, the Wiener Psychoanalytische Society as Austria was on the opposite side of England. During the war there were only a few meetings of the society which, in addition, as time passed became less frequent and therefore also a few clashes. On November 11, 1918, the end of the war was declared for which, returning to normal, resumed the meetings of the company and then also the clashes. On February 20, 1919, Jones, who wanted a Freudian faith company, renamed the London Psychoanalytical Society into the British Psychoanalytical Society. The formal motives given by Jones were that by now the psychoanalysis had spread throughout England so keeping the old name would have been evidence of provincialism while the new name gave a national breath; actually since the old members to move to the new company, called Freudian by statute, they had to have an endorsement based on the scientific curriculum, such change served to Jones not to admit the Jungians into it. In 1924 Jones, with John Rickman’s help, gave birth to the London Institute of Psychoanalysis on the model of the Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut, Polyklinik und Lehranstalt who was both a training institute and a hospital, where they were treated with the psychoanalytic method those who could not afford a therapy privately as a school of training for analysts. The education’s method following by this institute was defined by Abraham "tripartite", because it was based on three points: frequency to theoretical courses, didactic analysis and analytical supervision. This comprehensive teaching methodology, which included theoretical learning of the doctrine, to undergo personal analysis and to practice analysis on others reporting on the performance of the same to your supervisor for the purpose of control and verification, it had such a success that it was then repeated in all the other training institutes in psychoanalysis around the world, so also in the London Institute of Psychoanalysis, and it is still the running model. In 1925 Melanie Klein, whose theories had strongly influenced British analysts, was invited to London to hold a series of lectures, he was very successful and was invited by Jones to move to England. In 1926 Melanie Klein, in view of the fact that into the German - speaking psychoanalytic world she was not much appreciated, but it was preferred the other great theoretical of infantile psychoanalysis, her archrival Anna Freud, and that her master Karl Abraham had died the year before, she accepted the invitation to move to London, leaving the Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft to become a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society; the Klein’s theories differed from those of Freud in many respects. the most important were the development times of the object relations, considered more precocious by Klein, on the Oedipus complex, considered less important than the previous development stages by Klein and finally on the death’s drive, that Freud felt did not exist in children. Also in 1926, within the British Psychoanalytical Society, borned the London Clinic of Psychoanalysis that, as its Berlin counterpart. provided low - cost psychoanalytic treatments for adults and children, allowing access to this type of treatment to those who, for economic reasons, could not afford it. In 1933 the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, due to the policies of racial persecution, kicked off a great exodus of jews, and therefore also of analysts, such as Hilda Abraham, in other parts of the world, but mainly in England and in the USA. A second wave of refugees occurred between 1938 and 1939 following the German annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia and to the alliance with various nations that accepted the racial laws among which Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria; in this group there were also Sigmund and Anna Freud who chose to move to London, where they were welcomed triumphantly into the British Psychoanalytical Society. The beginning of the Second World War, which took place on September 1, 1939, led the Germans to occupy several countries including Poland, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, Greece, Denmark, Norway, France in which the racial persecutions were established which led consequently to a third wave of migratory jews. The arrival of these analysts, mostly followers of Anna Freud, in England could not fail to lead to tensions with Melanie Klein’s followers. After Sigmund Freud’s death in 1939, the conflict between Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, which lasted from long distance before since the previous decade, exploded furiously inside the British Psychoanalytical Society; more and more often, in fact, the publication of psychoanalytic articles or interventions at various conferences were used to bring more or less veiled attacks to the theories of the opposing faction. Three factions were born, one linked to the Ego psychology led by Anna Freud, one linked to the theory of the object relations led by Melanie Klein and the third defined of the Independents, because the members of it were not deployed, led by Ernst Jones. Among Melanie Klein’s followers were Marjorie Brierley, Susan Isaacs, Joan Riviere, Paula Heimann, Roger Money - Kyrle Among those of Anna Freud were the Ego psychologists Kate Friedlander, Hilda Abraham, Willie Hoffer and his wife Hedwig Schaxel in Hoffer and the Orthodox Freudians among whom Edward Glover, Melitta Klein in Schmideberg daughter of Klein and her husband Walter Schmideberg, among the independents they sided Ella Freeman Sharpe, James Strachey, Sylvia Payne, Donald Winnicott, William Gillespie, John Bowlby; Connell sided with the latter. His death in 1941 did not allow him to participate in the subsequent events that are placed between 1942 and 1944, namely the Controversial Discussions between Anna Freud’s and Melanie Klein’s factions and their conclusion through the Gentlemen’s Agreement which sanctioned the clauses of the agreement between these two components of the British Psychoanalytical Society.
In 1920 Connell concluded his psychoanalytic studies in London andreturned to Edinburgh where he was hired as a medical assistant at Craig HouseMental Hospital. This hospital was built as an extension of the pre-existingRoyal Edinburgh Hospital. The origins of this hospital should be traced back tothe early death, just 24 years, of the poet Robert Fergusson (Edinburgh, 5September 1750 - Edinburgh, 16 October 1774), suffering from depression, forthe consequences of a fall, accidental or intentional, from the stairs of hisown house. The psychiatrist who followed him, Andrew Duncan (Edinburgh, 17October 1744 - Edinburgh, 5 July 1928), convinced that if the poet had beenhospitalized, he would not have died, began to pressure local authorities tobuild a psychiatric hospital in the cityof Edinburgh. In 1792, seeing that a decision had not yet been taken, launcheda public appeal for a fundraiser for that purpose. In 1806, Parliament granted2.000 pounds that, in addition to those already collected, they allowed topurchase a house in the Morningside district of Edinburgh and the beginning ofthe renovation work. In 1813 the Morningside Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum wasinaugurated; Its first director was John Hughes (? - ?). Since the number ofhospitalization requests exceeding the number of beds, Sir Thomas Clouston(Edinburgh, 22 April 1840 - Edinburgh, 19 April 1915), director, at the time,of the Morningside Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, had it purchased by the Hospital’sBoard of Directors Craig House, a noble residence of Edinburgh built in the XVIcentury on a previous building, in order to open a branch; this branch wasinaugurated in 1914 under the name of Craig House Mental Hospital, renamed in1972, in his honour, under the name of Thomas Clouston Clinic and closed, aftera slow decline in 1992. The mother clinic, instead, was renamed Royal EdinburghHospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders in 1922, and still exists.Immediately after the recruitment, Connell proposed to the hospital’s topmanagement the opening of a psychoanalytic outpatient service intended forneurotic patients; this initiative was very successful from the very beginning.He lived and practiced psychoanalysis in Edinburgh until his death.
Scottish psychoanalysts have always sought a link between their strongreligious faith and psychoanalytic doctrine. In Scotland, the most widespreadevangelical creed is presbyterianism which refers to the Calvinist doctrine.Calvinist theology is based on scripture, denies free will, supports the dual predestinationfor some men, which are destined for eternal glory and others to eternaldamnation and argues that civil institutions, wanted by God even when theymanifest themselves in tyrorical forms, they must be established on the respectof authority and of their vocation, that is the acceptance of the place thateveryone competes in society. These beliefs explain many of Connell’sdecisions: his choice to start medical studies at 34, graduating at 40, as ifhe had understood only at that moment what was his place in the world as wellas his choices in the Freudian field at the time of the dispute with Jung andthe Group of independents afterward, as influenced by Jones, somehowpredestined to him as a mentor. In this sense, all of Connell’s reasoning wasstrongly influenced by his religious beliefs; in fact, he does not believe thatsexual drive is the motor of human behavior or even its purpose. His reasoningstarts with the remodulation of the concept of Libido that is not a purelysexual energy, but rather the force that allows man to achieve his consistentpurpose in the preservation of the species, thanks to the reproduction, thathappens, in turn, through the sexual impulse. Sexual drive is not the onlyincentive that pushes an individual towards another gender opposite, but alsofrom a set of physical and character traits, that arouse that psychic functionthat Connell calls Interest. For this reason he replaces the term Libido withInstinct of Interest. The Instinct of Interest is determined by endocrinologicalsecretions and, allowing the focus on an individual of the opposite sex forwhich one feels attraction, it allows procreation and therefore thepreservation of the species. In a way he finds the synthesis between religiouspredetermination and psychic determinism.
From the moment in which the individual does not recognize or escapesfrom what should be his natural point of interest, begins the psychopathology.The hormonally charged energies on sexual urges, if they are deemed to bemorally inappropriate, not being able to discharge itself with the sexual act,generate consequences both deterministic and physical and psychological. From adeterministic point of view the sexual act missed and therefore the non -satisfaction of the instinct of conservation of the species leads to a lack ofmeaning of life for the individual and therefore to a weakening of the instinctof self - preservation of the sexual act in neurotic leads to the idea ofdeath. From a physical point of view,the undischarged energies free themselves on the neurovegetative system,generating various kinds of somatizations. From a psychological point of viewthe sexual act missed lived as a lack of Eros in the mind of the neurotic givesway to Thanatos which manifests itself as an idea of death. In summary,whatever the point of view used, the conclusion is that the denial of thesexual act in the neurotic, in turn, linked to the disavoption of the object ofinterest, it makes the psychopathology and the idea of death arise. Thepresence of a physical pathology, weakening the functionality of the endocrinesystem, it causes sexual urges to have a lower energy charge so that allconsequences will be less intense; paradoxically this undermines the idea ofdeath in the mind of the neurotic. Of course, not in all individuals sexualinstinct’s deferment or suppression causes the onset of death’s ideas; thisdepends on Principle of Reality and Principle of Pleasure’ strenght.If the first one is stronger than the second, than the individual will notdevelop either psychopathology or idea of death, while it will happen exactlythe opposite if the second is stronger than the first.
According to Connell, regression occurs whengenital sexual urges cannot be fulfilled or subjected to delay or elaborate;this situation, due to the fact that the individual did not follow his ownInstinct of Interest, not allowing an adult lifestyle, determines a regressionto previous psychosexual developmental stages; if the regression isparticularly accentuated, the individual projects his sexual impulses onhimself, going subject to a more or less accentuated narcissism.
Connell developed some theories on the etiopathogenesis of the main psychopathologies, based on the idea of death. Depression would be due to the persistence of the idea of death in the mind of the neurotic and retained in his psyche, while in paranoia the idea of death is projected outside through delirium in general, and that of persecution in particular. Hypochondria would be derived from a concretization of the idea of death on the soma, while hysteria would be due to a discharge of the death’s idea on the neurovegetative system.
Works of Ernest Henry Connell
The significance of the idea of death in the neurotic mind, Journal of Mental Sciences (renamed from 1963 British Journal of Psychiatry) Vol. IV, pp. 115-124, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1924.
Works on Ernest Henry Connell
Celani David P., Fairbairn’s object relations theory in the clinical setting, Columbia University Press, New York, 2010.
Clarke Graham S, Fairbairn and the object relations tradition, Routledge, Londra, 2014.
Cuzzocrea Angela, Romeo Gabriele, Hilda Abraham, https://sppg.it/bio-psicoanalisti- gruppoanalisti?art=29, SPG, Reggio Calabria.
De Mijolla Alain, International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Macmillan, London, 2005.
Fenichel Otto, The psychoanalytic theory of neurosis, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1945 - Italian Edition, Treatise on psychoanalysis of Neurosis and psychosis, Astrolabio-Ubaldini, Rome, 1951.
Hoffman Marie T., Toward mutual recognition: relational psychoanalysis and the christian narrative, Routledge, London, 2011.
King Pearl, Steiner Riccardo, The Freud-Klein Controversies 1941-45, Routledge, London, 1992.
Ludwig-Körner Christiane, Der selbstbegriff in Psychologie und Psychotherapie: eine wissenschaftshistorische untersuchung, Deutscher Universitätsverlag, Wiesbaden, 1992.
British Psychoanalytical Society - https://psychoanalysis.org.uk
International Psychoanalytical Society - https://www.ipa.world
University of Edinburgh - https://www.ed.ac.uk
First Edition: SPPG, Reggio Calabria, February 21, 2019.
Annalisa Oliverio, Psychologist, resident at the SPPG - School of Specialization in Psychoanalytical and Groupanalytical Psychotherapy of Reggio Calabria.
Gabriele Romeo, Physician, Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Didactic Coordinator, Teacher, Training Analyst and Supervisor Analyst of the SPPG - School of Specialization in Psychoanalytical and Groupanalytical Psychotherapy of Reggio Calabria.