An Interesting Introduction to Psychology – Individual-Self-Psychology

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Countertransference occurs when the therapist projects their emotions, thoughts, and wishes from the past onto the client’s personality, or some other material the client is presenting, thus expressing unresolved conflicts and/or gratifying their own personal needs. In psychoanalytic terms, a client experiences catharsis when the recall of unconscious material leads to emotional release, while insight occurs when connections are made between current behaviors and unconscious material. Interpretation is a psychoanalytic technique that serves the purpose of gradually increasing a client’s insight into the reasons underlying current feelings and behavior. From a psychoanalytic perspective, a client who reports they have been thinking about problems outside of therapy indicates a good working alliance has been established.

Adler’s Individual Psychology personality theory and approach to therapy stresses the unity of the individual and the belief that behavior is purposeful and goal-directed. Therapy focuses on exploring lifestyle determinants, including family atmosphere, distorted beliefs and attitudes, and birth order. Adler posited that Feelings of inferiority (also called “inferiority complexes”) motivated growth, domination, and striving for superiority. Another term Adler used instead of inferiority complex is Masculine Protest. According to Adler, if an inferiority complex develops a connection with a specific part of the body, it is called Organ Inferiority. Adler believed children developed “compensatory behavior patterns” to defend against their feelings of inferiority. which he referred to as Style of Life.

The most significant difference between Freudian and neo-Freudian therapists is that Neo-Freudians more heavily emphasize socio-cultural determinants of personality. Horney defined basic anxiety as feelings of helplessness and isolation in a hostile world, and believed it was caused by certain parental behaviors (e.g., indifference, overprotection, rejection). According to Horney, the 3 modes of relating to others that children use to defend against basic anxiety are: Movement toward others, movement against others, and movement away from others.

Sullivan posited 3 modes of cognitive experience he believed played a role in personality development. The prototaxic mode involves discreet, unconnected momentary states and refers to experiences before language symbols are used; in the parataxic mode, people see causal connections between events that are not actually related using private (autistic) symbols; and the syntaxic mode involves logical, sequential, and consistent thinking, and underlies language acquisition. According to Sullivan, neurotic behavior is caused by parataxic distortion, which is characterized by a person dealing with others as if they were significant people from their past (similar to transference).

Fromm, who was interested in the role society plays in preventing people from realizing their true nature, identified the receptive, the exploitative, the hoarding, the marketing, and the productive (the only one that permits a person to realize their true nature) as that 5 character styles adopted by a person in response to societal demands. The main difference between Freudian Psychoanalysis and Ego-Analysis is that Ego-analysis places greater emphasis on the role of the ego, as opposed to the id, in personality development. From the perspective of the ego-analysts, pathology occurs when the ego loses its autonomy from the id. Psychologists who primarily emphasize the impact of early relationships on personality development and view maladaptive behavior as the result of abnormalities in early relationships use Object-Relations Theory approach to psychotherapy.

Margaret Mahler, an Object-Relations theorist and therapist, is most noted for her study of Separation-individuation, which is the process by which internal representations of the self and others are formed. In Object Relations Theory, Object Introject is the mental representation of a person that, when inappropriately developed, leads to pathology. Splitting is the Object-Relations term used to describe a person’s tendency to separate object-representations into good and bad, usually leading to aggressive feelings, irrational thinking, and poorly regulated behaviors. Self-Psychology (Kohut) is the therapeutic approach refers to normal narcissism as a child’s natural self-love and views pathology as stemming from consistent un-empathic parental responses during childhood. According to Self-Psychology, a child develops a protective Grandiose self when their narcissism is inevitably undermined by parental failure to satisfy all needs.