Object relations middle group and attachment theory : gender development, spousal abuse and qualitative research on youth crime
The basis to Freud's view that men and women are essentially separate entities with their own unique psychological construction and human potential which arises from their anatomical differences, will be challenged from the paradigm of object relations theory and related research from attachment theory. It will be argued that while a substantive understanding of gender development and the related issue of spousal abuse are influenced by such important factors as patriarchal domination, social oppression, socialized roles, and economic inequality between the sexes, these forces are considered to have a secondary psychological effect when compared with the formative influence of early object relations. The object relational paradigm to be outlined is that it is the distinctive emotional impact of the contents and attitudes that occur between the members of each family that establish the blueprints for subsequent feelings about oneself and others, from which particular relational patterns with others are pursued and acted upon within the larger social structure. Freud may be credited for his recognition and pioneering systematic investigation into the central importance of the unconscious in the development and functioning of human beings. Beyond this being a theoretical entity that is devoid of any scientific rigour which cannot be tested, proven, and therefore accepted as a legitimate therapeutic modality, information will be offered that suggests otherwise. Spousal relationships in which abuse constitutes a chronic pattern of interaction between the persons involved is understood to occur within contemporary North American society as a collusive arrangement between two emotionally impaired individuals. The argument will be made that they enter into an unconscious dialogue wherein each perpetrates and perpetuates the hopes and disappointments of their own and their partner's past intrapsychic relational experiences. Incarceration alone does not serve the emotional needs of young offenders, but instead, generally provides conditions which advance what is accepted, within this paper, to be a frequently disturbed psychic structure. The emphasis within the Canadian correctional system seems to emphasize incarceration over rehabilitation with the expectation that punishing those who break the law will result in an abstention from such acts in the future. The argument will be presented that in addition to ensuring public safety through imprisonment for some, there is mounting evidence which demonstrates the success of treatment programmes both within and outside of correctional institutions for those who break the law, and whose primary emphasis is on treatment and rehabilitation rather than detention and retribution. Contrary to therapeutic intervention being carried out as an adjunct to existing penal institutions, or that it be directed principally at the conscious acquisition of skills and information, it is proposed that such efforts are best administered within 2 comprehensive therapeutic environments. Further, it will be argued that rather than the previous and current emphasis which is directed primarily at a cognitive and behavioural level of the offender, it is the emotional foundation of the individual which has a direct influence on their long-term behaviour. Therefore, this aspect should constitute a fundamental component of the treatment program for the forensic patient for which psychoanalytic psychotherapy may play an important role.