Lack of Object Constancy - A symptom of some personality disorders, Lack of Object Constancy is an inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision. Object constancy is a developmental skill which most children do not develop until two or three years of age.
Infants often experience separation anxiety whenever they are separated from a parent, even for a second. They may begin crying unless they are held or unless they can see their parent close by, terrified that they have "lost" their parent. This is known as separation anxiety.
When toddlers become mobile and begin to explore their world, they often begin to take short excursions to explore their environment, turning their attention to an interesting object and checking back with mom or dad every few minutes to feel safe again. As the child develops, the time between "check in's" tends to extend longer. By the time a child is 4 or 5 years old, most children can spend several hours at pre-school or school away from their parents without experiencing significant separation anxiety.
The ability to recognize that although they can't see their parent, that their parent is still "there" and that they are still safe is sometimes referred to as Object Constancy.
Object Constancy is the ability to understand that some things or people remain constant - even when we can't see them or verify that they are "still there". Object constancy can apply to objects or to people and relationships. People who suffer from personality disorders sometimes experience a lack or a deficiency in object constancy. This can be at the root of issues fear of abandonment, as well as dissociative memories, selective amnesia and false accusations.
Examples of Lack of Object Constancy
A baby who cries as soon as a parent leaves the room.
A partner who calls or texts repeatedly - more than 10 times in a single day.
A parent who assumes that their teenager has left home when they are 15 minutes late getting home.
A housewife who has repeated affairs while her husband is at work because she feels abandoned.
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If you suspect you may have a family member or loved-one who suffers from a personality disorder, we encourage you to learn all you can and surround yourself with support as you learn how to cope.
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