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Sloane, J.A. (2002). Beginnings: A Self Psychological Interface Between Psychoanalysis and Christianity — A Personal Point of View. Free Associations, 9(3):443-462.

(2002). Free Associations, 9(3):443-462

Beginnings1: A Self Psychological Interface Between Psychoanalysis and Christianity — A Personal Point of View

John A. Sloane

With a diagram of the ‘Beginnings of Self—SelfobjectObject Relatedness’ as a visual aid, the author presents an overview of preverbal development and of its relationship to the Christian ‘myth’. From the earliest experiences of oneness through various disruptions and ongoing processes of differentiation and synthesis, the individual can be seen as seeking restoration of what Loewald described as original unity. Depending on the nature and extent of healing of traumatic ruptures of oneness (emotional crucifixion), various forms of selfobject emerge: mirroring, idealized, twinship, and adversarial. Transference presentations and countertransference responses are described and linked to corresponding Christian ideas. The analyst's capacity to recognize his inevitable empathic failures is crucial not only to the restoration of the self and its selfobject relationships, as Kohut described, but also to the patient's recognition and forgiveness of the object, separate from the self, as Winnicott described. This process allows for mutual empathy and reciprocal selfobject functioning. This faithful, hopeful view of the analytic process is consistent with both psychoanalytic ideas and Judaeo-Christian values. Just as the myths of Oedipus and Narcissus illuminate universal human experiences, so too the Christian ‘myth’ can serve to enhance our therapeutic understanding of self and others not only in the clinical sphere but beyond it.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

“Then”, God said, “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them … And God saw everything that he had made and behold it was very good. (Genesis, 1: 1-31)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was, in the beginning, with God; all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was light and the light was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it…

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not … And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. (John, 1: 12-14)

For now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face to face. (1 Corinthians, 13: 12)

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