This semester, I took my first-ever course on psychodynamic theory (Professor Weiner – what what), and it was the jam. I think I have always naturally gravitated toward a more psychodynamic outlook; this class, however, maximized my understanding of such theory, particularly adding more structure and dimension to my understanding of the relationship between early-attachment experiences and self.
For instance, Kohut’s self-psychology postulates that one’s sense of self is rooted in her/his early experiences with having been mirrored and validated by caregivers. If one’s primary caregivers failed to viably validate and mirror the child, she/he would most likely fail to acquire a cohesive sense of self marked by robust emotion-and-self-esteem-regulating intrapsychic structures; such failures would then lead to unhealthy reliance on self-objects for (external) regulation of emotions and self-esteem. For instance, one could develop a “mirror-hungry personality,” navigating her/his reality to facilitate being seen and admired by others to superficially “fill her/himself up” with a sense of self-worth-and-esteem; given such intense reliance on others to feel whole, in the context of feeling slighted by others, she/he would then most likely experience depleted depression or disintegration anxiety. Overall, a self-psychology approach to treating clients would involve mirroring and validating the client, “picking up from” the point at which self-development was thwarted.
This is sort of a spastically provided glimpse into self-psychology, but I hope that it might serve to invigorate your curiosity about/interest in psychodynamic theory. Given the extent to which I was inspired by this course, I am taking Advanced Psychodynamic Theory this summer – can’t wait. Will keep you updated. :)