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Hamm, R. (2009). Negative will, Self-Image, and Personality Dysfunction. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(1):55-82.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(1):55-82

Negative will, Self-Image, and Personality Dysfunction

Robert Hamm, Ph.D.

Certain things never change. This aphorism provokes thoughtful reflection. When applied to the field of psychology, we might think of certain behavioral principles or perhaps certain archetypes of the psyche identified by Jung. This aphorism also conjures reflection regarding what has changed about the psyche. Freud, Jung, and Rank each investigated the nature of the psyche from historical perspective. Rank especially was interested in the evolution of human psychological development since antiquity as revealed in mythology, art, and social institutions and customs. He believed that the will toward immortality lies at the foundation of psychological development, which has become manifest in modern civilization as the will toward individuality (Rank, 1932/1978). Through creative self-development, each individual is able to rise above anonymity and achieve a spiritual relationship that transcends everyday experience. Since Rank's lifetime (he died in 1939), changes have taken place in social and political history, in technology and communications, and in the nature of psychological dysfunction that have prompted this author to propose a revision of Rank's theory of personality as it pertains to his will theory (Hamm, 1997).

It is the purpose of this article to balance Rank's will theory of neurosis and its treatment with the study of alienation and interpersonally destructive behavior within a holistic framework, that is, the study of personality dysfunction as part of a larger process parallel to societal change. The increasing presence of narcissistic disorders and disorders of the self will be discussed in relation to the failure of certain social conditions to foster collective self-development.

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