IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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need from others, and how we need others to be responsive to us, changes over the life span (Kohut, 1984). These functions consist of mirroring, idealization, and twinship (Kohut, 1977). Mirroring is part of the development of the grandiose self in which parental response to the child builds self-esteem and reinforces the child’s sense of self (Kohut, 1971). Idealization is characterized by a yearning for an omnipotent object to which one can attach in an effort to feel whole, safe and firm (Siegel, 1999). Twinship is the need for an other who inspires a feeling of similarity (Kohut, 1971). According to Kohut, self-object needs are fundamental to the human experience and are essential for self cohesion (1971); the development of a cohesive self takes place along three axes: (a) The grandiosity axis, (b) the idealization axis, and (c) the alter ego-connectedness axis: The grandiose self or mirroring self-object : The functions associated with the grandiose self include the experiences of being affirmed and acknowledged by another who mirrors one’s internal state. The result is a sense of worth, positive self-regard, and experiences of being respected and feeling approved of by an “other” who praises and compliments us in an authentic way. Some of these experiences can lead the person to feel a sense of dignity and self-respect. Experiences of admiration and of feeling lovable can result in a sense of poise, self-confidence, and self-assurance. Experiences of being “cheered on” in the pursuit of novel experiences and encouraged in the mastery of challenges that stretch one’s reach, lead to a sense of firmness in the sense of self, enhancing a vigorous sense of personal agency (Kohut, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1975, 1978). The idealized parent imago or idealization : The functions associated with the idealized parent imago include the experiences of safety that results from the faith in the strength and omnipotence of someone who acts as a protector. Sharing in the strength of that person and the experience of being protected results in the function of feeling empowered and effective as a human being. The experience of having one’s excitement or over-stimulating feelings modulated by another, results in the development of self-control, self-discipline, and self- regulation. The experiences of being soothed, comforted, and calmed by another, who provides solace and support as well as joyous vitality, result in the capacity for enthusiasm and equanimity. Finally, the experience of learning rules of conduct that represent the content of the culture’s values and ideals, become consolidated into a value system, and a set of ideals that serve as guides in the person’s life. These give a sense of purpose in the pursuit of life’s goals (Kohut 1968, 1971, 1978 ). The alter-ego or connectedness : The alter-ego self-object functions were initially associated with the mirror transferences, being considered an archaic form of those transferences, but were later given a separate status (Kohut, 1984). The functions associated with the alter-ego include the experience of a common bond with others that can lead to a feeling of kinship with others so that nothing human feels alien. The experience of the


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