Monday, March 27th 2017
Dec
2007
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Addiction: 9 Causes and Cures

“TRANSITIONAL OBJECTS” and D. W. WINNICOTT

Paris Hilton and TinkerbellIn the object relations school of psychology dominated by the likes of D. W. Winnicott, one of the 20th-century greats who built on the work of Freud, lovers are like Teddy Bears and the chihauhau (Tinkerbell) that Paris Hilton is holding in this photo. Winnicott called them transitional objects. The original object is your mother’s breast — a primal archetype because we humans depended on the breast for our very survival through the ages.

According to Winnicott, one of the most important skills we develop as a toddler is “object constancy,” and we learn it at about the age of three. Without it, loss and abandonment would feel intolerable. At the point our psyches download that feeling we let go of clinging to our mother’s breast because we sense a connection with “mother” even if she isn’t physically in a room. We comfort ourselves with co-called transitional objects like a soother or a stuffed animal.

Healthy adults feel a natural connection with intimate partners, God or other forms of “new breasts.” An aloof mother like the Julianne Moore character in the movie The Hours can produce a clingy kid whose fear of abandment is magnified — and an addict as an adult.

Addiction is a form of clinging. The addictive substance — whether its sex, drugs or booze — has become the transitional object.

Paris Hilton is a poster girl for this form of addiction — from boyfriends to bling and binge-drinking. They’ve become the teddy bear, along with Tinkerbell.

Next: Re-Installing “Object Constancy”


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5 Comments on “Addiction: 9 Causes and Cures”

  1. [...] surgery, job loss, bankruptcy, divorce, the death of a parent, rape or other violent crime. The object constancy that D. W. Winnicott suggests is installed in our psyches around the age of three can be wiped out like a deleted computer file. The other thing that happens [...]

  2. Paris needs our prayers. Work can also fill the void of object constancy. Some people throw themselves into one project after another looking for that sense of belonging, accomplishment and acceptance.

  3. This should be a regular feature! Disecting crazy celebrities! I'd read that every day

  4. [...] you’re hooked by transitional objects like sex, drugs, alcohol or other addictions? Even if object constancy has been wiped from your system by abuse, or worse, the good news is that it can be re-installed.  [...]

  5. [...] Next: “Transitional Objects” and D. W. WInnicott [...]

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