Is there such a thing as a perfect family? While all families strive to be perfect, many problems and issues can arise that can bring that “picture perfect” family out of reach. When a family realizes that the problems or issues they alone cannot fix, family therapy is a wonderful option that they can take to help overcome what is happening in the family. Learning Team B decided to research on how homosexual parents are with raising children in today’s society and on parents of a schizophrenic child. Object relation theory involves three elements: attachment, frustration, and rejection. Because of these three elements, a schizophrenic patient and children being raised by homosexual parents, male or female, are best suited for the theory of object relation in order to help find success.
Object Relations Theory Background and Approach
Object relations theory stems from psychodynamic perspective that early experiences lead an individual to form mental images of self, others and our relationship to others. One of the concepts of object relations is the focus on relationships and the objects in a client’s life include people such as a father or mother (Klee, 2000-2007). From this perspective, “we bring memories of loss or unfulfillment from childhood into current dealings with others…the family therapist, therefore, [helps] family members become aware of those unresolved objects from their families of origin” (Parrott, 2003, 372)
According to Klee and Parrott, object relations helps determine how people within a family perceive and relate to others. A gay, for example, may have a negative foundation based on rejection or lack of understanding by a parent. A schizophrenic may have had a painful early experience that challenges his or her ability to relate to the context of a family relationship. The parents themselves may have unresolved issues regarding their own childhood which result in repetitive arguments or family discord.
The purpose of object relations family therapy is “the resolution of these “self-destructive patterns of relating so [the client] can mature and self-actualize (Klee, 2000-2007).Dr. Klee has identified stages in object relations therapy, the first of which align with other therapy approaches including intake (assessing current relationships), building a relationship with the client (using attention, interest, acceptance and avoiding judgment), and diagnosis of the maladaptive patterns. From this point on, object relations focuses on bringing to the surface unconscious patterns and defenses; identifies any transgenerational patterns that affect the present; and helps the family develop healthy coping strategies, healthy interactions and relationships.
Family Issue: Non Traditional Family
As the universe evolves into the 21 Century the traditional family structure has a noticeable change from a structure of mother, father, two point five children and the family dog, to having two women or two men as parents. This forces society to the realization that the modern family is changing away form what is considered “the norm.” Diversity of this structure is often the result of divorce, chosen single motherhood and other factors. However, in the more recent years, yet another family pattern is emerging: gay and lesbian couples with children. Gay and lesbian families are often viewed as deviant, immoral, and even dangerous to the development of children by some people. Such beliefs in society will create more than just moral controversy; it will surface issues of legality, decisions of custody, anxiety and basic human rights. According to the 2006 census, 33% of female same-sex couple households and 22% of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home, within these families a multitude of problems exists (PFLAG, 2006).
The non triditional family face some of the same issues as the triditional family structure, however, these issues are amplified with the non traditional family. Co-parent conflicts with each other is the number one issue, these could range from dealing with school issues, family service providers and the therapist. The children of homosexual parents may also have affected behavior. “Serious health problems may incur from being a child of gay or lesbian couples. Past research on children of lesbian or gay couples is marred by methodological problems, including heavy reliance on self-reporting and a tendency to ignore evidence not supporting a conclusion” (Love and…1997).
Family Issue: Schizophrenic Family Member
Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy used object relations to adult interaction and development in the family system. The vital concept is for the clients to gain “individuation and clarify self-object boundaries” (Daniels, 2007).
Family members need to interact with each other in a health way by learning role playing.
The roles that need to be learned are subject and object roles. These roles are a give and take positions with family member taking turns in each position, making sure neither party is locked into the same role. “A healthy relational engagement includes tuning into the partner’s object-seeking wants or needs; both partners discover themselves in part through dialogue with the other” (Daniels, 2007). A father being able to rough-house with his son showing friendly aggression without being destructive is an example of a healthy relational engagement.
Being the object means being the overbearing parents or the parent who is always looking for sympathy. Family members cannot escape the role they are playing and the family member that plays the object role can learn independence. The child can take care of the parent (emotionally or physically) without the child being provided his needs.
Being the subject means trying to get their way by making other family members submit to them.
The person whom does this is a “taker” and never learns to give. If two people in a
relationship insists on doing this, they’re in the dilemma of trying to fit an interpersonal
relationship into intrapsychic ones. Whoever succeeds in transforming the other partner
into a parent “wins” the object-role assignment game. A sick adult may succeed in this
through his suffering, the demanding family member through guilt arousing blame.
The person whom gets “hooked” into the parental position of a parental object is the loser
in the contest, and catches the problem from everyone else.
A common transactional system between parents of a schizophrenic patient is pointless,
endless bickering. The deeper structure of this often involves their inability to face their
own (possibly unconscious) negative, critical attitudes toward their own parents (Daniels
As this paper comes to a close, depending on the type of family issues would depend on the type of theory that a therapist should use. In these two situations of a non-traditional family and the family with a schizophrenic, object relations work best because of how it relates to a family’s past involving the patient. Usually, something the patient has dealt with early in life that has led him or her to where they are at now. After researching, non-traditional families might tend to have more issues that arise than traditional families due to others in society not able to accept the ways of non-traditional families.
Klee T. L., (2000-2007). Object Relations Theory. Object Relations. Retrieved February, 18, 2008 from http://www.objectrelations.org/orkey.htm
Kramer, L.(1997) Same-sex marriage, conflict of laws, and the unconstitutional public policy exception.Yale Law Journal 106(May): 1965-2008
Parrott, L. (2003). Retrieved February 10, 2008, from University of Phoenix, Week Four, rEsource. BSHS/312 Web site.
PFLAG. (2006). Family Issues. Retrieved 02 2008, 2008, from PFLAG Family and Friends:
University, S.S (2007, 10 20) Object Relations Theory. Retrieved 2 2008, from Somona State