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Wink, P. (1994). The Relational Self: Theoretical Convergences in Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Rebecca C. Curtis (Ed.). New York: Guilford, 1991, xv + 319 pp.. Psychoanal. Psychol., 11(1):121-124.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 11(1):121-124

The Relational Self: Theoretical Convergences in Psychoanalysis and Social Psychology: Rebecca C. Curtis (Ed.). New York: Guilford, 1991, xv + 319 pp.

Review by:
Paul Wink, Ph.D.

The Relational Self, a collection of papers from a conference held at Adelphi University in 1990, represents the latest attempt at rapprochement between psychoanalysis and social/personality psychology. The core unifying theme in this new effort at integration is the relational self—a construct that has gained prominence among both analysts and psychologists since the early 1970s.

From the point of view of social psychology, the self is inherently embedded in a relational matrix of people, the physical environment, and a broader sociohistorical context. The significance of the shift in the 1960s and 1970s from the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model of behavior to the self is that the self, unlike the organism, is its own center of agency and hence an equal partner with the environment in explaining human behavior.

The dialectical relation between the self and environment is well illustrated by four essays in The Relational Self devoted to current perspectives from social psychology. The persuasiveness of a message (Lippa, chap. 3) and the amount of effort we choose to exert in group activities (Szymanski, chap. 4) are differentially related to the activation of a private or public self. Whether we choose as our reference point an inner or outer audience matters for subsequent behavior. As Deaux (chap. 5) explores the impact of marginality or minority status on identity structure, Hormuth (chap. 6) uses a socioecological framework to study the relationship between the self and objects in the physical environment during times of transition.

Several other essays included in The Relational Self provide the reader with a glimpse of the richness and vitality in current research on the self.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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