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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Sullivan, Horney, and Fromm

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PSYC 370
Robert Ley

PSYC 370 – Fall 2012 Book Notes: Chapter 7 – Neo-Freudians: Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, and Erich Fromm HARRY STACK SULLIVAN – INTERPERSONAL THEORY Personal History - Born in the winter of 1892 - He was the third and only surviving child, his siblings died in infancy - Grew up poor on a remote farm in rural New York - Was looked down on for his Irish Catholicism - Morbidly distant relationship with his father - Mother was protective - Won a New York State Scholarship to Cornell University, but was suspended for a term, but he was humiliated and never returned - Enoch Pratt Hospital in Maryland – assistant psychiatrist for 8 years o Treated male schizophrenic patients no as “insane” but rather as a respected person o Therapist as a participant-observer – an expert, but warm and tender and far from authoritarian - After he died, at 57 years old, in Paris… many of his colleagues, staff, etc showed their hurt - Not an easy person to know – he was anxious, lonely, eccentric, at once witty and warm, aloof, and capable of biting criticism American Psychiatry and Sociology - Sullivan was strong influenced by Adolph Meyer – gave American psychiatry an independent and pragmatic parallel (pscyhobiology) to Freud’s psychoanalysis - Was attracted to the ideas of the Chicago school sociology – George Herbert Mead, W.I. Thomas, and Charles H. Cooley An Interpersonal View of Personality - We cannot imagine personality outside of interpersonal interaction - It is only in interaction with others that we can find individual personality - Definition of personality by Sullivan: “Personality is the relatively enduring pattern of recurrent interpersonal situations which characterize a human life” o Personality is an illusion – an abstraction from the commonalities observed in repeated interpersonal relations - Psychiatry: “the study of phenomena that occur in interpersonal situations, in configurations made up of two or more people all but one of whom may be more or less completely illusory” - Person-situation interactionist Parataxic Thinking and Distortion - Parataxic from the Greek word “a placing beside” - The assumption of causal connection between events that is not rationally examined or confirmed by others - Occurs when a patient attaches to his analyst attitudes and feelings based on an erroneous identification of the analyst with significant others in his experience The Self – an ego concept of the self; also called self dynamism - Outstanding task of goal of self dynamism: pursuit of security – the attaining of comfort and relief from the disapproval of others - Concept incorporates the conscience and ego ideal of the superego - Involved in the organization of all interpersonal behavior in the pursuit of security Needs – also called satisfactions - Bodily needs, including sex (lust) **what motivates humans? Security and needs The Major Concepts of the Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry Tension – the only kind of energy that engages in worm to reduce tension - The goal is a state of euphoria, of tensionless bliss, an end state best approximated in deep, dreamless sleep - Two sources of tension (1) the needs of the body, and (2) anxiety o Are aroused when bodily needs must be met – ‘psychochemical’ needs for sustenance including oxygen, warmth, sleep, and sex o Anxiety – aroused by endangered security; is the fear of disapproval Dynamisms – a relatively enduring configuration of energy which manifests itself in characterizable processes in interpersonal relations - a process of energy transformation, of turning physical energy into thought, feeling, and behavior - Basic unit of personality - Shares some off the attributes of the everyday concept of habits, but are different because dynamisms are responsible for the organization and channeling of energy into behavior - They emerge only out of interactions between one persona and another or others, through various interpersonal situations, they are made evident in interpersonal relations Self dynamism – also called the self system; is at the absolute center of personality organization and interpersonal relations - Protects the person from threat to security - Begins to develop in infancy with the first awareness of approval and disapproval - As the child develops, the self dynamism becomes more and more adept at forestalling and deflecting anxiety - Capable of two process that contend with anxiety – (1) dissociation, and (2) selective inattention o Selective inattention – directing attention away from experiences (sounds, sights, words, ideas) that carry an anxious meaning o Dissociation – anxiety laden experiences are denied, excluded from awareness  May be expressed in dreams, fantasies, and actions that other people notice but are unnoticed by the person dissociating with them  i.e. a characteristic tendency to apologize Sub dynamisms - Hate dynamism – organizes hatred and targets it - Paranoid dynamism – rooted in (1) awareness of inferiority of some kind, which then necessitates (2) a transfer of blame onto others’ - Genital lust dynamism – can be dissociated at grave risk to effective living, and … in most people … cannot be dissociated at all Three Cognitive Modes 1. Prototaxic thought – from the Greek ‘proto’ which means first o A kind of undifferentiated stream of consciousness, an extreme version of the flow of thought o Raw, moment-by-moment sensation, without organization or connection o The infant is not yet able to make the distinction between “me” and “not-me” o This may occur in the most profoundly disturbed schizophrenic 2. Parataxic – from the Greek, meaning ‘to carry alongside’ o It is as if associations were conditioned without the intervention of mind o Associations are not linked logically and are likely to be perceived causal connections between events that have simply occurred sequentially and have no necessary relationship o e.g. when a baby cries as a signal and, without awareness of what they're doing, summon their mothers o i.e. prejudices, superstitions o Reacting or thinking automatically o Anxiety situations will tend to make cognition parataxic since anxiety constricts attention and impairs the ability to think o Those who are neurotic are likely to experience this often o Extreme case: there is no testing of reality, no comparison with the experiences of others 3. Syntaxic – from the Greek, meaning ‘orderly management’ o Is logical, operational, and confirmable by the experiences of others – consensually validated o Syntaxic thought is eminently verbal: we use words and symbols to communicate with others o Emphasizes that knowledge is acquired interpersonally Personifications – the images, pictures, attitudes, and interpretations of others and of ourselves that occupy much of our thought - They reflect our experience in satisfying needs and guarding our security - i.e. if our experiences in need satisfaction have been positive and rewarding, so too will be the personifications we associate with them - Personifications of ourselves and others will involve the pursuit of security and may entail distorted representations o e.g. personification of authority – stemming from perhaps an overbearing and demanding father and generalized to others in positions of ascendance Communication - From Sullivan’s dealings with schizophrenics, he learned that not all communication is verbal, nor is all verbal communication consensual - Nonverbal communication predates the development of language o i.e. an emotional connection between a mother and her baby Personality Development – Sullivan’s stages reflect the interpersonal situations and experiences of a child - recognized that there may be cultural differences in his stages/epochs/eras Sullivan’s Epochs of Personality Development 1. Infancy – from birth to the maturation of the capacity for language behavior o Primary mode of communication is empathy, the emotional apprehension of the mothers state  Takes some time to develop fully at its height from the sixth to the twenty-sixth month o Attachment – maternal bonding; attachment becomes more discriminating as infants start to form representations of their mothers o Cognitively, the infant will make the transition from prototaxic to parataxic thought and develop personifications that will have enduring significance  i.e. good, bad, anxious, approving, calm, rejecting mother; good-me, bad-me o Self dynamism appears, organizing the infant’s self-perceptions and coping with disapproval and anxiety  Will in later development come to dominate interpersonal relationships, self- awareness, and openness to experiences involving the quest for security o Oral dynamism – begins with the channeling of energy into the action of drinking milk from the mother  Reduce tension through thumb sucking and crying (calling for need satisfaction or security) o The development of talking in babyish ways marks the end of this era 2. Childhood – from infancy to the maturation of the capacity for living with compeers o Approximately two to six years old o Entails the child’s exposure to basic requirements of the culture that, through parents, he or she must learn o This period is the making of a socialized person o E.g. toilet training, how to ask for things, being patient, using manners, minimizing outbursts of temper o Through communication with parents of thoughts, feelings, and facts the child starts to develop syntaxic thought, consensually validating his or her own experience  Never grow out of parataxic mode, but is partly supplanted by the syntaxic o Self dynamism becomes more coherent and organized, and it incorporates gender and gender-appropriate roles o Dramatizations – children play at being adults  Enabled by a new ability to view people and roles symbolically, and they are an important way of stepping into adult shoes o Sublimate – to replace or to combine anxiety-inducing thoughts and behavior with thoughts and acts that gain approval o Malevolent transformation – in which a child whose security is badly threatened retreats from affectionate contact with the attitude that he or she lives among hateful enemies 3. Juvenile Era – from childhood to the maturation of the capacity for isophilic intimacy o Compeers – the ability to co-operate with other children  People who are on our level, and have generically similar attitudes toward authoritative figures, activities, and the like o Self dynamism is now the self-view of an independent person, one who has a recognizable conception of self o Juveniles compare themselves to others and feel a need to belong; they may fortify their appraisals of themselves if they feel threatened by ostracism o Can discipline their own impulses and separate fantasy from reality o They begin to form stereotypes – cry baby, teacher’s pet, disparaging ethnic attitudes (such personifications are parataxic) o Not everyone graduates to the next stage… many adults do not grow beyond the juvenile era  They pass through the remaining epochs but remain juveniles in the complexity of their self systems, in their interpersonal interactions, and in their parataxic level of thinking 4. Preadolescence – from the juvenile era to the maturation of the genital lust dynamism o Starts at around 8.5 to 9.5 years old o Miracle because there is a movement from what we might call egocentricity toward a full social state o It is the first manifestation of the capacity to love that introduces preadolescence 5. Early adolescence – from preadolescence to the patterning of lustful behavior o Is announced by the onset of puberty, and the appearance of genital lust o Sullivan called this the “most spectacular maturation of all” o Experiences clear sexual impulses, masturbates, and has orgasms, and encounters westen culture’s ambivalent attitudes towards sex o If awkwardness and clumsiness (perfectly normal for a novice) and ridicule from parents or peers too strongly threaten security, the adolescent may retreat 6. Late adolescence – from early adolescence to maturity o Brings pattern and organization to the lust dynamism and brings lust together – sometimes in collision – with intimacy o Challenge of intimacy and challenge to competence – to the adolescent’s readiness to become a full-fledge adult o Have to confront their abilities and measure them against the opportunities and barriers before them  Further schooling? Job – at what level? Continue to live at home with parents or establish a new, independent existence? o Some late adolescents, threatened and anxious, regress to become juveniles with vastly diminished life possibilities Research – largely social research in a psychiatric setting - Principle of similia similibus curantur – like cures like - Sullivan’s goal was to create and interpersonal environment that would give his patients the kind of preadolescent trust and intimacy they had
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