Is it possible to fall in love with something that’s not living?
Did you have a stuffed toy that you loved with all your heart, or have you ever apologised profusely to an object you’ve bumped into?
Late last February, a user on Reddit posted a meme saying that sometimes when they grab a cup from a cabinet, they grab one from the back that never gets used, because they feel like the cup gets depressed because it isn’t fulfilling its life holding liquids.
This set the ball rolling for other users who started confessing their own thoughts on whether or not objects have feelings: “I used to work at a toy store and if anyone ever bought a stuffed animal I would leave its head sticking out of the bag… so it could breathe,” said one Reddit user.
Another user replied: “When I was a kid my mother would always have me choose the cutest stuffed animal. I’d feel bad for all the other animals that weren’t bought. It still sometimes makes me depressed nowadays.”
Another confessed: “I cried when they got new tiles in the kitchen. They pried it up in chunks, I thought it was in pain.”
Another thread asked which inanimate object users though were their nemesis, to which one Reddit user said: “A watch. There is a watch in my room that I lost, it beeps at 12 in the night. I can’t find it for the life of me. It’s driving me insane.”
Another replied: “Hangers, particularly when they get together in their little groups and intertwine with each other in a sinister plot to try to get me so angry when trying to separate them that I feel like going on a killing spree… or maybe it’s just me.”
No, Redditor, it is not just you.
Psychoanalyst Dr Paul Schimmel said that most psychoanalysts would agree the emotional over-investment in material objects acts as a type of compensation for something that’s been missing in their life.
“We tend to see the absent of inaccessible first ‘object/s’ as having been the mother (followed usually by the father) and what he or she provides, that is feeding, care and emotional understanding,” he said.
“Ultimately the over-investment in material objects is best understood in terms of turning away from these human/emotional ‘objects’.”
The attachment and love for inanimate objects can carry through to adulthood. It can be as simple as someone’s fairly common love for their phone, or more complex, such as that of an objectum-sexual.
Although most of us don’t go to the extreme of these Redditors, it’s likely we all feel some emotional attachment to a special object.
In Donald Winnicott’s 1951 paper titled Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena he explained that we develop an attachment to objects in our infant years as we begin to discover our independence from other entities.
Winnicott called these objects transitional, which he explained were objects that the infant projects a maternal bond onto. He continued to say this is normal and an essential tool for development as it helps ease anxiety that a child might feel when they are no longer so tightly bonded to their mother.
In his study he wrote: “There may emerge some thing… perhaps a bundle of wool or the corner of a blanket… that becomes vitally important to the infant for use at the time of going to sleep, and is a defence against anxiety, especially anxiety of depressive type.”
OS Internationale is an organisation designed to offer support for objectum-sexuals. They say that objectum-sexuality, or OS for short, refers to a person who develops significant and fulfilling relationships with objects.
“OS is innate and not developed in the sense that one becomes OS,” a spokesperson for OS Internationale said. “People who are OS often come to a realisation that they are inclined in a different way at the onset of puberty when others are discovering their budding attractions to people.”
The organisation said most people are animist as children and interact with objects around them in a way that is accepted at that age and even supported. “However, the animism is gradually unlearned as they grow older. The child then puts aside their favourite toy and starts to detach themselves from the objects around them… OS people do not detach. The objects may be a cute teddy bear as a child and evolve into a more complex object that exudes more energy to connect with.”
OS Internationale said that while we think it sounds crazy to fall in love with the Eiffel Tower (as was the case with Erika Eiffle), an OS relationship is as harmless as any human relationship. “OS people, particularly those who are animist, feel a deep fulfilment with the object they connect to and a strong reciprocity that is often disregarded by mainstream,” the spokesperson said. “However the most important factor is the OS person is in a happy relationship where no one is being harmed or held back.” – Jessica Heckley
Top photo from Troy B. Thompsons Flickr photostream.