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Barnett, A.J. (2009). Editor's Introduction: An Integration of Self-Based Theory in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 96(2):183-185.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Review, 96(2):183-185

Editor's Introduction: An Integration of Self-Based Theory in Psychoanalysis

Alan J. Barnett

I want to acknowledge the contribution of the previous editor, Michael Eigen, who's idea it was to assemble this series as a Special Issue. In this series of papers, William Meissner proposes a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of the self in psychoanalysis, and gives special attention to how an integrated psychoanalytic theory of the personal self may help advance analytic theory of therapeutic action. Meissner has been refining his conceptual research on the self-system for many years, coincident with the upsurge in thinking within the field about the role of the self in psychoanalytic theory. The first three essays of this set present the most thorough integration to date of his emerging theoretical model of the multidimensional meaning of the self. In focusing on what seem to him the most relevant theoretical, clinical and empirical studies covering a vast literature not only within psychoanalysis but also from cognate disciplines, Meissner additionally structures his model to address extant conceptual ambiguities and highlight persisting lacunae in this area of psychoanalytic theory. His multidimensional account is compatible with other recent accounts (e.g., the self as representation in structural theory, the concept of self in self psychology and that prevailing in intersubjective and relational approaches). Other approaches, however, are shown to focus typically on one aspect of the self, while tending to ignore, presume or minimize other aspects emphasized here. Meissner demonstrates that a supraordinate concept of the ‘self-as-person’ with constituent perspectives that differ as to the timing of their respective origins, developmental (nonlinear) progressions, and interactions as a function of ongoing circumstances, context, and stimulus conditions, increases the explanatory range of the psychoanalytic theory of the self and its progressive development.

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