On Kohut And Bowbly Essay

1575 words - 7 pages

Running Head: Theory Paper

Theory Paper: Kohut and Bowlby
Jeffrey A. Suiter
John F. Kennedy University
December 12, 2013
Dr. A. Estrada

Theory Paper: Kohut and Bowlby
When attempting to determine the cause of any particular mental disorder, understand the patient developmental history (i.e. interpersonal or intimate relationships, traumatic life events, and moments of profound comfort or safety) as it relates to diagnosing or conflict is critical. This fundamental knowledge helps inform therapeutic treatment and helps facilitate the level of depth into a patient intrapshyic process. Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic pioneer, created the psychological method of inquiry that ...view middle of the document...

They argue that relational experiences from early childhood to early adolescents explain our emotional needs for comfort, belonging, safety, and validation. When these early relationship are harsh, cruel, unloving, invalidating or adverse; they results in developmental ruptures that later in life leaves one vulnerably to psychological distress (i.e. depression/anxiety disorders) or relational conflicts. In case of Bowlby’s attachment orientation, early childhood experience with one’s caregiver (i.e. maternal figure) provides the building blocks for future psychological development, be it healthy or maladaptive (Shapiro, 2007). Bowlby posits that events from infancy can play a pivotal role in someone’s development of feeling safe in the world. From theoretical attachment perspective we are biologically driven to form physical and emotional attachments with one another for an internal sense of safety with ourselves and with others. Conversely, Kohut places less emphasize on an innate human motivation to form psychological or physical attachment for safety. Instead he argues that we learn how to organize self-experiences and internal security, through our relationships with our parents, or “selfobjects” (Banai, Mikulincer & Shaver, 2005).These selfobjects promote the self-formation of three significant developmental axes that contributes to a cohesive self. Kohut’s axes will be explore and explained later in the paper. Bowlby’s and Kohut’s theories each focus less on sexual drives as a cause of psychological development (i.e. Freud) and instead their theories closely examine the importance of early developments relationships with one’s caregiver as internalized models for the development of the psychological self (Lopez, Siffert, Thorns, Schoenecker, Caetleberry & Chaliman, 2013). However, their theories do differ tremendously in how they are operationalized in clinical settings. In case of self-psychology, Kohut provides case studies, examples, and clearly explains what he means by “empathic attunement” as a therapeutic technique (Banai, Mikulincer & Shaver, 2005). Whereas Bowlby’s attachment orientation, lacks any specificity in regards to working with patients therapeutically using his model. This however does not negate the importance of attachments figure in treating patient experiencing significant psychological distress. In many ways the two theories compliments one another more so than they compete or diminish each other’s contribution to the field of psychodynamic psychotherapy. The core concepts of each theory provide more insight into their contributions to working dynamically with patients experiencing psychological distress.
Kohut’s self-psychology theoretical perspective is based off the concept of “selfobjects” that meet the needs of the emerging self. These selfobjects are psychological projections that infants and children use to help organize their self-experiences, make sense of their internal and external...

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