This paper poses the question of why we need objects and explicates and compares the responses of different psychoanalytic theories. In the course of pursuing this brief study of comparative psychoanalysis through the lens of responding to the question of why we need objects, some interesting and perhaps surprising answers emerge: Freudian and Kleinian theories, more than other theories, most explicitly identify object love as a developmental imperative and as a primary criterion of mental health. A good deal of discussion is devoted to the regulating functions of objects and object relations, and to the role of object love in psychic functioning. Finally, there is some brief discussion of the clinical implications of different responses to the question of why we need objects.
Keywords: Psychoanalytic theory, objects, object relations, object love, regulating functions of objects