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, 48 (3), 380-91

Object Relations Theory and Pharmacopsychotherapy of Anxiety Disorders


Object Relations Theory and Pharmacopsychotherapy of Anxiety Disorders

N G Hamilton et al. Am J Psychother.


This paper provides an overview of object relations concepts, applying them specifically to combined psychoterapy-pharmacotherapy of anxiety disorders. Anxiety in this clinical theory is conceptualized as arising from threatened loss of the self- and object-relationship. At a rudimentary level, individuals can attempt to manage potential loss through splitting and projective identification. As benign and loving experiences accumulate and ego functions neurophysiologically develop, whole object relations provide alternate and more modulated ways of coping with anxiety. In anxiety disorders, these more mature coping styles break down. Treatment combining object relations approaches to psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy pay particular attention to the relationship aspects and meanings of medication and prescribing. These approaches use the concepts of empathy, containment, countertransference, splitting, projective identification, and transitional object formation to help patients come to terms with their anxiety and with the treatment relationship.

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