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CHAPTER 7
KOHUT’S SELF PSYCHOLOGY
Self Psychology: The Newest Development in
Classical Psychoanalysis
•

Self psychology: theory that the self is the center...
Self Psychology as Object-Relations Theory
•

Objects-relations theory: the course of human development depends on
the qua...
Pre-Oedipal Development of the Nuclear Self
•

•

•
•

Nuclear self: foundation of personality, established through a lear...
Pre-Oedipal Development of the Nuclear Self
(cont’d.)
•
•

•
•
•

Optimal frustrations: ideal, nontraumatic, frustration o...
Disturbances to the Self
•
•

Psychosis: severe disturbance of the self in which defenses do not cover
major defects in th...
Disturbances to the Self (cont'd.)
•

Narcissistic personality disorders
– Understimulated self: individuals feel empty, b...
Disturbances to the Self (cont'd.)
•

Narcissistic behavior disorders (cont’d.)
– Mirror-hungry personalities: individuals...
The Role of Narcissism in the Development of
the Self
•
•

•

Unhealthy narcissism: unrealistic feelings of grandeur, exhi...
Assessment Techniques
•
•
•

Empathy as the primary data collection toll
Free association
Dream analysis
Assessment Techniques (cont'd.)
•

Transference
– Counter-transference: therapist tends to react to the patient on the
bas...
Theory’s Implications for Therapy
•
•

•

Goal of therapy is to redirect narcissistic energies from the unrealistic self
s...
Evaluative Comments
•
•
•
•
•

•

Comprehensiveness: broad scope
Precision and testability: not very precise and very diff...
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Psychology 3: Pwrpt. Chapt. 7

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Psychology 3: Pwrpt. Chapt. 7

  1. 1. CHAPTER 7 KOHUT’S SELF PSYCHOLOGY
  2. 2. Self Psychology: The Newest Development in Classical Psychoanalysis • Self psychology: theory that the self is the center of psychological motivation, organization, and change in personality – Assumes that psychological damage to the self produces psychopathology
  3. 3. Self Psychology as Object-Relations Theory • Objects-relations theory: the course of human development depends on the quality of the relationships established between individuals, particularly between parents and their children – Object relations: mental representations of real external people that exist within the individual or self – Self-objects: representations of psychologically important people who can help us cope with and resolve problems
  4. 4. Pre-Oedipal Development of the Nuclear Self • • • • Nuclear self: foundation of personality, established through a learning process initiated by empathic parents, in which individuals modify their unrealistic beliefs about themselves and their caretakers Primary narcissism: initial state of well-being and satisfaction in which all of the infant’s needs are gratified and the infant feels an oceanic perfection and bliss Grandiose self: primitive view of oneself as great Mirroring: process whereby a person sees himself or herself in the face of the other (usually the mother) – Child can internalize others’ approval and admiration – Facilitated by empathy: ability to assume the perspective of another person; to know and understand his or her experiences
  5. 5. Pre-Oedipal Development of the Nuclear Self (cont’d.) • • • • • Optimal frustrations: ideal, nontraumatic, frustration of a person’s needs (by parents) that fosters new learning and personal growth Transmuting internalizations: process whereby individuals learn more realistic and effective ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving as a consequence of interactions with empathic parents Idealized parental imago: children’s initial view of their parents as perfect, all-knowing, and all-powerful Need to idealize: need to seek security by identifying with all-powerful figures, usually parents Cohesive self: personality that is organized and healthy, and functions effectively, because its narcissistic energies are primarily invested in the pursuit of realistic goals
  6. 6. Disturbances to the Self • • Psychosis: severe disturbance of the self in which defenses do not cover major defects in the self Borderline states: disorders of the self in which damage to the self is permanent or protracted; in contrast to the psychoses, the central defect is better covered by major defenses – Schizoid personality disorders: defective self structures are protected against further damage by aloofness and superficial involvement in relationships – Paranoid personality disorders: deficiencies in self structures are shielded against further damage by using hostility and suspicion to keep potentially injurious objects at a safe distance
  7. 7. Disturbances to the Self (cont'd.) • Narcissistic personality disorders – Understimulated self: individuals feel empty, bored, and depressed because their parents have failed to respond empathically to their mirroring and idealizing needs – Fragmenting self: person feels uncoordinated, in some cases, the person may feel tired, mentally slow, and awkward following threatening experiences – Overstimulated self: individuals exposed to excessive stimulation in childhood, because their fantasies of greatness were continually reinforced by unempathic caregivers – Overburdened self: person has not had an opportunity to merge with the calmness of an omnipotent self-object, usually a parent • Result is lack of the self-soothing capacity that could have been learned through such contact
  8. 8. Disturbances to the Self (cont'd.) • Narcissistic behavior disorders (cont’d.) – Mirror-hungry personalities: individuals who crave self-objects whose confirming and admiring responses will increase their feelings of selfworth – Ideal-hungry personalities: individuals who experience themselves as worthwhile as long as they can relate to people they can admire – Alter-ego personalities: individuals who feel worthwhile only if they have a relationship with a self-object who looks and dresses like them and has similar opinions and values – Merger-hungry personalities: individuals who experience others as their own self – Contact-shunning personalities: intense longing to merge with selfobjects; such individuals are highly sensitive to rejection, to avoid this pain, they avoid social contact
  9. 9. The Role of Narcissism in the Development of the Self • • • Unhealthy narcissism: unrealistic feelings of grandeur, exhibitionism, poor impulse control, and impoverished relationships with their parents Healthy narcissism: person sheds excessive parental dependencies, starts to exercise autonomy, develops skills, and becomes a creative, empathic, and achievement-oriented person within a context of enduring interpersonal commitments Autonomous self: self of an individual who has achieved optimal mental health and a freedom from inhibitions that interfere with his or her ability to act productively
  10. 10. Assessment Techniques • • • Empathy as the primary data collection toll Free association Dream analysis
  11. 11. Assessment Techniques (cont'd.) • Transference – Counter-transference: therapist tends to react to the patient on the basis of his or her own narcissistic needs and conflicts – Mirror transference: a person who had not been adequately mirrored, that is, confirmed and given approval by his mother, relives these experiences with the therapist – Idealizing transference: a patient see the therapist as an admirable and powerful figure to fulfill their unmet childhood needs of comforting, protective parents – Alter-ego transference: a patient seeks for the therapist to fulfill their unmet childhood needs of comfort and acceptance from their own parents
  12. 12. Theory’s Implications for Therapy • • • Goal of therapy is to redirect narcissistic energies from the unrealistic self structures to the nuclear self and its ego Patients who have undergone therapy will not undergo miraculous changes – Instead, when therapy is successful, individuals will show considerable improvement in various areas of their lives On the whole, good analysis means that patients are able to experience the joy of existence more keenly and consider their life more worthwhile
  13. 13. Evaluative Comments • • • • • • Comprehensiveness: broad scope Precision and testability: not very precise and very difficult to test adequately Parsimony: too reductionistic Empirical validity: so far, not much empirical support for much of the theory, with the exception of theorizing about unhealthy narcissism Heuristic value: highly heuristic, at least in stimulating professionals in psychoanalysis to reconsider many of the concepts they hitherto had adopted uncritically Applied value: has high-applied value in generating profitable research on narcissism

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