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Sorter, D. (1995). Principles of Self Psychological Treatment. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 4(4):247-254.

(1995). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 4(4):247-254

Principles of Self Psychological Treatment

Dorienne Sorter, Ph.D.

Case vignettes are offered to illustrate five principles of self psychological treatment the author believes are generally accepted by self psychologists. A sixth principle is included, contributed by self psychologists informed by intersubjectivity. They are:

1.   The centrality of the empathic vantage point for analytic observation. This requires a shift in the listening stance from observing from the outside to observing from the inside. The analyst attempts to listen from within the context of the analysand's subjective reality in order to understand his experience.

2.   Alterations in the sense of self must be recognized and understood.

3.   When ruptures occur between patient and analyst (selfobject bond), such ruptures are analyzed.

4.   From a technical point of view, the careful exploration of both the state of the selfobject bond, and the meanings to the patient of the analytic activity needs to be carefully examined and understood by both patient and analyst.

5.   Defensive activities are thought to be undertaken in the service of psychological survival.

6.   A deeply entrenched defensive structure may appear as a resistance to progress in treatment. Such pathological structures of accommodation function to dismantle progress in self delineation.

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