chapter  One
19 Pages

Suttie’s influence on Fairbairn’s object relations theory

ByGraham S. Clarke

In this chapter, the author believes that he found a significant clue as to Suttie's influence on Fairbairn's object relations theory in Fairbairn's heavily underlined copy of a 1939 edition of Suttie's book. The author suggests that it was Fairbairn's study of this copy of Suttie's book that helped to prompt the "creative step" that led to Fairbairn's ground-breaking papers of the 1940s. When one compares the underlined parts of Suttie's text with Fairbairn's development of his psychology of dynamic structure the influence is obvious. The author thinks that it is important here to recognise that Fairbairn's interest in a general psychology that is capable of grounding psychoanalytic theory as a whole is of deep significance. Fairbairn's development of a thoroughgoing object-relations-based structural theory founded on the idea of object seeking and an underlying innate social need for object relationship, attachment or companionship, is an independently developed contribution of deep significance to psychoanalytic theory.