Object Constancy

Another major breakthrough made by Mahler was the concept of “object constancy.” Mahler’s object constancy means that the child begins to recognize that other people have separate identities.

I am myself in perpetuity
Why do you accuse me of amorphousness?
A shapeless blob capable of any form?
Can this be possible?
Is it your superpower to hold me to this?
I am to sit in the room, in the corner
Like an appliance, unused
Ready to come on at a moment’s notice
When you need me
And then shut myself off
Ready for action, happy to perform
A maze without an end?

Some people with BPD have problems with holding onto a consistent mind image when it comes to relating to others. They struggle to have a sense of continuity and consistency about people in their lives.

I lead a double life according to you
When I leave, I become a different man
I am charming and graceful and kind
And I reserve all my sorrow and disgust for you
Do you require that many distractions?
I hide nothing but concern
Dismay that my sandwich board advertising
Goes unnoticed by you
While every line of fine print is scrutinized
Under magnification
Looking for loopholes in love
Passages in passion
Discrepancies in devotion

Because of the lack of object constancy, actions are often read as if there were no prior context, and intention is defined solely by how someone last interacted with them. Interactions may trigger an intense rage, constant misinterpretation or a heightened sensitivity towards criticism.

This ship has sailed, so I’ll take the burning bridge
I am not your worry – I never have been
I am the same as I ever was
An upward spiral, improving
Changing, but within reason
Like the hours, the days
Anticipatorily different, but increasing
You are the same – always arctic winter
So why are you so surprised when I am tired of the cold
And I wish for sunlight and warmth
On a sandy shore, at dawn?

Concepts in italics derived from here


See also Object Permanence


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