Polarities of Experience: Relatedness and Self-Definition in Personality Development, Psychopathology, and the Therapeutic Process

Pages: 404
Item #: 4317146
ISBN: 978-1-4338-0314-7
List Price: $29.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $24.95
Copyright: 2008
Format: Hardcover
Availability: In Stock
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In this groundbreaking book, Sidney J. Blatt proposes that psychological development is a lifelong personal negotiation between the two fundamental dimensions of relatedness and self-definition. Psychological development, from youth to old age, is a synergistic balancing act between these two polarities, with most individuals favoring to varying degrees either the anaclitic (relatedness) dimension or the introjective (self-definition) dimension. Exaggerated emphasis on one developmental line at the expense of the other, however, can lead to a variety of mental disorders.

Within this framework, mental disorders are seen not as clusters of present or absent symptoms, as in the current DSM diagnostic system, but rather as compensatory exaggerations of the normal polarities of relatedness and self-definition. The author argues that this conceptualization of personality development has clear implications for therapy and describes intriguing research indicating that anaclitic and introjective persons respond differently to psychotherapy. The author applies this model in great detail to the process of therapeutic change, with striking implications for further research.

Clinical researchers, therapists, psychiatrists, and graduate students will find this book a rich source of new ideas for research and practice.

Table of Contents

Peter Fonagy



I. Relatedness and Self-Definition: A Fundamental Polarity of Experience

  1. Fundamental Dimensions in Personality and Social Theory

II. Personality Development

  1. Developmental Antecedents of Relatedness and Self-Definition
  2. Relatedness and Self-Definition in Personality Development
  3. Dialectical Development of Interpersonal Relatedness and Self-Definition

III. Personality Organization and Psychopathology

  1. Two Primary Configurations of Personality Organization
  2. Two Primary Configurations of Psychopathology

IV. The Therapeutic Process

  1. Relatedness and Self-Definition and Therapeutic Change
  2. Relatedness and Self-Definition in the Therapeutic Process



Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author

Author Bio

Sidney J. Blatt received his PhD in personality development and psychopathology from the University of Chicago in 1957, where he interned at the Counseling Center with Dr. Carl Rogers. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois Medical School and Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. He joined the faculty of the psychology department at Yale University in 1960, and in 1964 he also assumed the post of chief of the psychology section in the Department of Psychiatry.

Dr. Blatt was a fellow of the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry for psychoanalytic training at the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis, graduating in 1972. He has also held a Senior Fulbright Research Fellowship and is currently a Senior Specialist for the Fulbright Foundation.

Dr. Blatt has published extensively (over 200 publications) in a wide range of journals in psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis. He has authored or coauthored several books—Experiences of Depression (American Psychological Association, 2004), The Interpretation of Psychological Tests (1968/1988; with J. Allison & C. N. Zimet), Schizophrenia: A Developmental Analysis (1976; with C. M. Wild), Continuity and Change in Art: The Development of Modes of Representation (1984; with E. S. Blatt), and Therapeutic Change: An Object Relations Perspective (1994; with R. Q. Ford), and coedited several volumes—The Self in Emotional Distress: Cognitive and Psychodynamic Perspectives (1993; with Z. V. Segal), three volumes on psychoanalytic theory and attachment research (1999, 1999, 2003; with D. Diamond), Attachment and Sexuality (2007, with D. Diamond & J. P. Lichtenberg), and Theory and Treatment of Depression: Toward Integration (2005; with J. Corveleyn & P. Luyten).

He has been on the editorial board of several journals in psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis and has received citations for distinguished contributions to research, teaching, and clinical practice, including the highly coveted award from the Mary S. Sigourney Foundation (in 2006) for distinguished contributions to psychoanalysis.

He has also been a visiting professor at several universities, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; University College London, England; Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium; Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel; Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva, Israel; George Washington University in Washington, DC; and the Menninger Foundation when it was in Topeka, Kansas.

Reviews & Awards

Read a review of this title from the PsycCRITIQUES® database (PDF, 40KB)

…a wonderfully impressive accomplishment, integrating developmental, systems theory, and attachment theory perspectives into a recasting of classical psychoanalytic theory and its Eriksonian extensions (the latter itself first recast) into a unified coherent presentation of normal development, of normal character configurations (in an integrated duality), of psychopathology, and of its therapeutic remediation. Our field owes much to Sidney Blatt's lifetime of work at clinical, theoretical, and empirical psychoanalytic integration.
—Robert S. Wallerstein, University of California San Francisco, School of Medicine, Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training

I think [Blatt] provides a new model of bringing together hermeneutics and science. I would recommend [Polarities of Experience] to any graduate student or psychoanalytic candidate precisely to show them how theory, research, and clinical practice can be put together in a rich, clinically sophisticated way.
—Lewis Aron, PhD, excerpt from "Interview With Lewis Aron," conducted by Jeremy D. Safran, PhD, Psychoanalytic Psychology, 2009, Vol. 26, No. 2, 99–116

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