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In psychoanalysis, a relationship experienced, or an emotion directed, by the ego towards an instinctual object. Barely mentioned in the writings of Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), it has played a central role in the theories of later psychoanalysts such as the British-based Hungarian psychiatrist Michael Balint (1896–1970), who pointed out in his book Primary Love and Psychoanalytic Technique (1952) that it is virtually the only concept in classical psychoanalysis that does not refer to the individual in social isolation, and the Austrian psychoanalyst René A(rpad) Spitz (1887–1974), who made a similar observation. See also fixation (2), libidinal stage, object instinct, primary identification, object-relations theory, primary object.

Subjects: Psychology.

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