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D317 Social Psychology: personal lives, social worlds

Understanding The Self
Edited by Richard Stevens

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The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA © The Open University 1996 First published in 1996. Reprinted 2000, 2002. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may e reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without permission in writing from the Publishers. SAGE Publications Ltd 6 Bonhill Street London EC2A 4PU SAGE Publications Ltd 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks California 91320 Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd 32, M-Block Market Greater Kailash - 1 New Delhi 110 048 British Library Cataloguing in Publication data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 0 7619 5039 7 ISBN 0 7619 5040 0 (pbk) Library of Congress catalog card number 95-071767 Edited, designed and typeset by the Open University. Printed and bound by Cromwell Press, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

This text forms part of an Open University course D317 Social Psychology: Personal Lives, Social Worlds. Details of this and other Open University courses can be obtained from the Central Enquiry Service, PO Box 200, The Open University, Milton Keynes MK& 6YZ. For availability of other course components, contact Open University Educational Enterprises Ltd, 12 Cofferidge Close, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes MK11 1BY.

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CHAPTER 6 THE DEFENSIVE SELF: A PSYCHODYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE
by Kerry Thomas

Contents I Introduction ........................................................................ 4 2 Basic psychodynamic assumptions .............................. 11 2. 1 Unconscious motivation ................................................ 11 2. 2 Irrationality and defence mechanisms............................ 16 2. 3 Internal worlds and the developmental focus.................. 18 2. 4 The experiencing subject ............................................... 22 3 Psychodynamics and the origins of social life and selfhood .................................................................................. 28 3. 1 Freud: instinct as the driving force ................................ 32 3. 2 Klein: a theory of instincts and internal object relations 38 3. 3 Object relations: theories of emotional nurturance and intersubjectivity ........................................................................ 45 4 Psychodynamics and selfhood ...................................... 56 4. 1 Subjective experience of selfhood is incomplete........... 58 4. 2 One self or many............................................................ 63 4. 3 ‘Self as a defence’ and ‘defences of the self: holding the fragments together................................................................... 73 4. 4 4. 5 Selfhood: universal or situated?..................................... 78 Postmodern self: empty or saturated? ........................... 85

Further reading ...................................................................... 93 References.............................................................................. 94 Reflections.............................................................................. 99

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Introduction
This chapter uses the ideas and evidence of practising

psychoanalysts to think about how we become the people we are. The psychodynamic tradition began in the world of neurology, psychiatry paediatrics and the clinical science of the consulting room, and its ideas are not commonly found at the centre of academic psychology. This chapter sets out to do something new. It treats psychodynamics essentially as social psychology. I shall recast psychodynamics as a form of enquiry and understanding that is primarily concerned with the psychological and social development of the person and the creation of selfhood in a social world. What can psychodynamics offer to social...
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