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Horne, M. (2009). Elephants Painting? Selfness and the Emergence of Self States as Illustrated in Conceptual Art. J. Anal. Psychol., 54(5):619-635.

(2009). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 54(5):619-635

Elephants Painting? Selfness and the Emergence of Self States as Illustrated in Conceptual Art

Michael Horne, M.D.

The traditional view of the self is that of a singular entity whose ground is an inherent function of the mind. The more recent conception of the self is moving toward the social constructionist concept that its ground is the discourses of the particular culture into which one is born. These two divergent views have created an irresolvable binary of inner/outer that limits their explanatory power. To resolve this dilemma I suggest that the abstract noun ‘selfness’, indicating a general state, should replace the representational noun ‘self’, that indicates a specific state. I will propose that ‘selfness’ is indeed the ‘ground’ from which our unique self states emerge. I will illustrate this with examples from conceptual art and will discuss its relevance to analytic theory and treatment.

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