Traditional psychoanalysis views relationships as forged through individual drives--a satisfaction and fulfillment of needs and desires. Rucker and Lombardi contend, however, that all relationships cannot be explained so simply; rather, they argue that human relationships carry meanings which cannot be reduced solely to the psychic contributions of each of the individuals involved. Instead, Subject Relations discusses the existence of a related unconscious rooted in mutual subjective experience.
The authors cite numerous clinical examples that show how the unconscious material generated by human interrelatedness comes to light. Drawing on the work of Matte-Blanco as well as traditional object relations theorists such as Melanie Klein, D.W. Winnicott, and Thomas Ogden, the authors examine how identifications that exist through unconscious processes manifest themselves in psychoanalytic theory and practice.