Repetition compulsion and choice of love object

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Rafferty, Bernice
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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In the search for acceptance, people look for love in the wrong places, or from the wrong people and go from one dissatisfying relationship to the next. It seems like experience means nothing and lessons are not learned from past mistakes. Repetitions are most notable, and mystifying, when they are maladaptive and dysfunctional, repeatedly leading to disappointment, sometimes failure and can be self-damaging in nature. This paper argues that even the most maladaptive and self-defeating of compulsive repetitive behaviours are the seeking out of love and validation that the subject was denied through early life experiences. These behaviours are attempts to find libidinal gratification in the here and now and a defining influence in the choosing of a love object. The cure is in remembering and “working through”, which paves the way to the forgotten past in search of abreaction. This paper will review whether the opposing notions of pain avoidance or a drive towards self-destruction is at the root of our compulsion to repeat. Each of the concepts of psychic structures based on parental oedipal triads; symptoms specific to the individual structure categorisation and; therapeutic approach based on psychic structure is reviewed in the discussion regarding compulsion to repeat and choice of love object. The finding is in favour of the notion that the theories put forward provide many insights however, they fall short in providing a comprehensive picture of the workings of the human mind. Further attention to the creation of the environment necessary for awareness to evolve and how affects become associated with representations of the self and object is required.