Self Psychology and Diagnostic Assessment
Identifying Selfobject Functions Through Psychological Testing
The self psychology of Heinz Kohut has been an important force in contemporary psychoanalytic thought and its ramifications for therapy have been extensively explored. Now, Marshall Silverstein offers the first analysis of the application of self psychology to projective diagnostic assessment. Differentiating the self psychological approach from an ego psychological interpretation of classical drive theory, he clearly outlines the principal contributions of Kohut, including the concepts of selfobject functions, empathy, transmuting internalization, and compensatory structure. Providing numerous clinical examples, he shows how the major selfobject functions of mirroring, idealization, and twinship can be identified on projective tests. Silverstein then demonstrates how conventional assessment approaches to grandiosity, self-esteem, and idealization can be reconceptualized within the framework of self psychology, and he also contrasts ego psychological interpretations with self psychological interpretations.
This book makes a strong case for the importance of the clinical identification of self states. It will help practitioners understand their patients' varied attempts to repair an injury to the self to restore self-esteem (compensatory structure) and the clinical consequences of self-disorders, including disintegration products such as narcissistic rage and affect states characterized by empty depression, chronic boredom, and lack of zest.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. Part I: Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. The Shift From Classical Drive Theory to Self Psychology. Self Psychology: Major Concepts. The Central Role of Selfobject Functions. Part II: Selfobject Functions: Psychodiagnostic Indications. Content Analysis of Psychodiagnostic Testing: A Pathway to Understanding Self States. Clinical Indications of Selfobject Functions: Mirroring. Clinical Indications of Selfobject Functions: Idealization and Twinship. Ms. T.: Mirroring. Mr. L.: Idealization and Twinship. Postscript: Summary and Reflections.
"It is one of the most absorbing and articulate statements of the current status of personality assessment to date. This superb new volume deserves a wide readership, and I strongly recommend the book to experienced clinicians and to students. Psychoanalytically oriented clinicians who are engaged in both therapeutic and assessment work would find this book particularly useful, providing a substantial response to the need for exploring a self psychological conceptualization not only for understanding the therapeutic process but also for interpreting projective tests."
"I am happy to review an excellent book from the clinical tradition, which bucks the current trend and enriches and revitalizes psychological assessment....Silverstein has undertaken the daunting task of blending complex personality theory with clinical practice in a way that will be of practical use to psychological assessment clinicians and, most important, to their clients. He does so in a novel way...Silverstein is uniquely qualified for this task....I was thoroughly impressed by this book."
"This is a very valuable book because it corrects a deficiency in the psychoanalytic approach to psychodiagnosis, the neglect of the patient's experience, and a neglect of vicissitudes of self-esteem and its regulation....Rarely do we see such a fine integration of psychoanalytic theory and assessment practice....this is one of the great theoretical texts in psychoanalytic psychodiagnosis. Clearly, this book is idealizable. This book will inspire and awe the reader."
—Journal of Personality Assessment
"This is an excellent integration of clinical psychoanalytic theory and psychological assessment and one of the most notable contributions to the psychodynamic understanding of projective tests in the past several decades. Silverstein provides a particularly clear exposition of self psychology and its relevance to the study of the TAT and Rorschach. This is must reading for students and professionals alike and points out important new avenues for dynamic personality research."
—Bertram J. Cohler, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago