Integrating Deleuze and Guattari's Theory of Difference Into the Practice of Object Relations Therapy


Amy Goodson

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2004


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Paul Richer

Committee Member

Fred Evans

Committee Member

Roger Brooke

Committee Member

Suzanne Barnard


Deleuze, Guattari, Object Relations, Post-Structural Philosophy, psychodynamic therapy


In this study, I used Deleuze and Guattari's text Anti-Oedipus to suggest modifications to object relations theory which make the practice of psychotherapy more inclusive and more open to the production of difference. I began with Deleuze and Guattari's (1983, p. 51) critique of psychoanalysis which asserts that psychotherapy serves as an exercise of power which enforces the social norms and subjugates desire. I looked at how Oedipal relations create a subject who is defined as an isolated ego with a global, gendered identity. I further explored how Oedipalization creates a subject who desires his own subjugation and who willingly submits to repression out of a fear of losing the parents love and of being confined to a maternal realm of existence which is labeled as dangerous and insane. I then asked about whether it was possible to practice a form of therapy which did not encourage the subjugation of desire, but which instead served to free up the possibility for difference for desire and identity. I used Christopher Bollas (1995) as a representative of contemporary object relations theory to identify the changes that object relations theory has already made in attempting to embrace difference and to alter therapy so that the therapist is able to encourage the production of multiplicity. Using Bollas, I saw that through viewing the unconscious as a productive force, the goal of therapy could be reframed as one of encouraging the freedom of the productive unconscious, allowing it to actively seek and produce difference. From this perspective, the therapist is in service not of the client's ego, but of the unconscious forces which work through both us and the client. Using Deleuze and Guattari, I explored how to affirm this unconscious production while staying grounded in a materialist perspective, instead of lapsing into an idealist vision of the unconscious and of the subject. I also looked at how the therapist can maintain an awareness of the ways in which unconscious production is intimately tied to social production, which allows the therapist to be sensitive to the social and political aspects of the clinical situation.





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