IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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V. Bd. Self Psychology: Self Object Self Psychologists caution that one must be a bit wary of the concept of “internalization” inasmuch as it is a figure of speech which need not, nor should not, be taken too literally. Thus when it is said that “Object Relations Theory” refers to a gradual construction “of dyadic or bipolar representations (self- and object-images) as reflections of the original infant-mother relationship” (Kernberg, 1976, p 57) it should not necessarily be seen as indicative of transposition of activity in the world to a stage of theatre inside of the head where miniature replicas or “representations” or “images” are re-enacting the world outside. “Internalization” is best seen as applicable to concepts that need not have a physical or geographic meaning. Arnold Goldberg (1992), the editor of the annual series “Progress in Self Psychology” and a major contributor to the expansion of Heinz Kohut’s theory, exemplifies (2015a, oral communication with Eva Papiasvili): “We put money in the bank, we are in love or in trouble without attributing the dollars being stored physically in the building where the transaction took place or imagining that ‘love’ and ‘trouble’ are places. These are figures of speech that too easily become concretized. This lack of clarity has often been replicated in our assuming that the mind is somehow situated within the brain which in turn is situated within the skull; and so the process of having something or someone in mind is but an act of translocation, and this is simply and readily accomplished by a representation.” In sharp contrast to the seduction of the mere transposition of one’s life to a miniscule drama in the brain is the theory of the extended mind (Rowland, 2013). Inasmuch as theories are best thought of as useful tools which can be employed when needed rather than as illustrative of true states of affairs, the notion of the extended mind is presently employed to alter the manner in which we consider object relations. Although this theory of the extended mind was originally introduced as applicable to cognition, it is readily and easily employed in psychoanalysis in theories involving the self or the person. In brief it states that the mind is not to be thought of as confined to a small place inside of the head but rather is extended to encompass persons and events in the environment. One of the best and easiest ways to think of this is by way of the phenomenon of “staring.” Experiments had shown (Sheldrake, 2013) that people are able to tell when others are staring at them without their being able to visually confirm this. Of course there are a multitude of ways to think about how the mind reaches out into the world about it, and indeed this is the “normal” way that children think about the world. However, we see the theory of the extended mind in our daily psychoanalytic practice in the form of certain particular transference configurations. When Heinz Kohut (1971) began formulating his ideas about the psychology of the self, he realized that some patients developed meaningful transferences in which he became a significant component of his patients’ selves. He was not an object of old which was reactivated by way of regression and which enjoyed a separate and distinct existence, but rather was a reactivated part of the self which experienced the analyst as a constituent of that person or self. These transference configurations were able to be categorized as either mirroring, or idealizing, or twinship transferences and were further to be seen as moments of normal self development. Inasmuch as they were essentially components or parts of a patient’s self development they were established as “selfobjects” as opposed to separate and distinct objects. They demonstrated how the mind goes beyond the skull to capture others as part of its expanded


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