This workshop aims to describe a psychodynamic perspective on the development of addictive behaviors based on the object relations theory developed by Ronald Fairbairn (1952) and to extract a series of principles governing the therapeutic interaction illustrated with case examples from the author’s practice and with a video vignette. Eric Berne (1961) references Fairbairn’s intrapsychic model when he developed his theories regarding ego states, thus the workshop can be seen as a way of understanding this model starting from the source.
Without pretending to exhaustively describe all addictive behaviors, this theory may present a basis for understanding and clinical relating especially with those addicted patients who have a history of early trauma and who are, according to some studies (Banducci et al, 2014), more likely to relapse during treatment, have poorer outcomes and continue to use after treatment when compared with patients without such history.
The workshop will blend presentation of theory with case presentations by the author and small group discussions. No previous professional experience is needed, although the workshop will be of most value to people with a personal and/or professional interest in understanding and working with people who are using or abusing substances. The workshop aims to present the motivation behind the search for the addictive substance (object) as a vital mechanism, as opposed to the self-destructive understanding that is so commonly associated with using addictive substances or behaviours.