You’re probably putting "p" or "patcher" in front of the name of the object. You only do that if you’re making a new patcher. So you only need to create an object in the parent patch and then name it with the exact name of the subpatch (with no "p" or "patcher" in front). Also make sure the subpatch and the parent patch are saved inthe same directory.
I’ve asked plenty of stupid questions here before. As a noob I figure it’s my duty to answer noob questions that I know the answer to. It reinforces my own knowledge of the app and it keeps the old-timers from having to chime in (they get grumpy you know!).
Just instantiate a new object with your patch’s name, e.g.,
[maxfile]. This is called an abstraction. The patch file needs to be
in Max’s search path. Have a look at Encapsulating and Reusing Your
Work in Help > Max Help (in Max 5) or the Fundamentals PDF in Max 4.6.