- Idealization and devaluation
In psychoanalytic theory, when an individual is unable to integrate difficult feelings, specific defenses are mobilized to overcome what the individual perceives as an unbearable situation. The defense that helps in this process is called splitting. Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good. When viewing people as all good, the individual is said to be using the defense mechanism idealization: a mental mechanism in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others. When viewing people as all bad, the individual employs devaluation: attributing exaggeratedly negative qualities to the self or others.
In child development idealization and devaluation are quite normal. During the childhood development stage, individuals become capable of perceiving others as complex structures, containing both good and bad components. If the development stage is interrupted (by early childhood trauma, for example), these defense mechanisms may persist into adulthood.
The term idealization first appeared in connection with Freud’s definition of narcissism. Freud’s vision was that all human infants pass through a phase of primary narcissism in which they assume they are the centre of their universe. To obtain the parents' love the child comes to do what he thinks the parents value. Internalising these values the child forms an ego ideal. This ego ideal contains rules for good behaviour and standards of excellence toward which the ego has to strive. When the child cannot bear ambivalence between the real self and the ego ideal and defences are used too often, it is called pathologic. Freud called this situation secondary narcissism, because the ego itself is idealized. Idealization of others besides the self was explained both in drive theory as well as in object-relation theory. From the viewpoint of libidinal drives, idealization of other people is a "flowing-over" of narcissistic libido onto the object; from the viewpoint of self-object relations, the object representations (like that of the caregivers) were made more beautiful than they really were.
An extension of Freud’s theory of narcissism came when Heinz Kohut presented the so-called "self-object transferences" of idealization and mirroring. To Kohut, idealization in childhood is a healthy mechanism. If the parents fail to provide appropriate opportunities for idealization (healthy narcissism) and mirroring (how to cope with reality), the child does not develop beyond a developmental stage in which he sees himself as grandiose but in which he also remains dependent on others to provide his self-esteem. Kohut stated that, with narcissistic patients, idealization of the self and the therapist should be allowed during therapy and then very gradually will diminish as a result of unavoidable optimal frustration.
Otto Kernberg provided the most extensive discussion of idealization, both in its defensive and adaptive aspects. He conceptualised idealization as involving a denial of unwanted characteristics of an object, then enhancing the object by projecting one’s own libido or omnipotence on it. He proposed a developmental line with one end of the continuum being a normal form of idealization and the other end a pathological form. In the latter, the individual has a problem with object constancy and sees others as all good or all bad, thus bolstering idealization and devaluation. At this stage idealization is associated with borderline pathology. At the upper pole of the continuum[clarification needed] idealization is said to be a necessary precursor for feelings of mature love.
- ^ M. Kraft Goin (1998). Borderline Personality Disorder: Splitting Countertransference. The Psychiatric Times, vol. 15 issue 11
- ^ Joseph, E.D. (1978). The Ego Ideal of the Psychoanalyst. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:377-385.
- ^ Carver, C.S. & Scheier, M.F. (2000). Perspectives on Personality. Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.
- ^ Spruiell, V. (1979). Freud's Concepts of Idealization. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 27:777-791
- ^ Corbett, L. (1989). Kohut and Jung A Comparison of Theory and Therapy
- ^ Newirth, J.W. (1987). Idealization and Interpretation. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 23, 239-243.
- ^ Mitchell, S.A., & Black, M.J. (1995). Freud and beyond. New York: Basic Books.
- ^ Lerner, P.M., Van-Der Keshet, Y. (1995). A Note on the Assessment of Idealization. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65 (1) 77-90
Defence mechanisms Level 1 - Pathological Level 2 - Immature Level 3 - Neurotic Level 4 - Mature Others See also
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury — Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury, a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self esteem or self worth. Narcissistic rage is a term first coined by Heinz Kohut in 1972. Narcissistic injury is a phrase used by Sigmund Freud in 1923 … Wikipedia
Borderline personality disorder — Classification and external resources ICD 10 F60.3 ICD 9 301.83 … Wikipedia
Minimisation (psychology) — For other uses, see Minimisation. Minification redirects here. For the programming technique, see Minification (programming). Minimisation is a type of deception involving denial coupled with rationalisation in situations where complete denial … Wikipedia
Demonization — Heroes of the Fiery Cross 1928 Published by Pillar of Fire Church Demonized redirects here. For the album, see Demonized (album). Demonization is the reinterpretation of polytheistic deities as evil, lying demons by other religions, generally… … Wikipedia
Discrediting tactic — The expression discrediting tactics refers to personal attacks for example in politics and in court cases. Discredit also means to not give the credit that was deserved, to cheat someone out of credit. In politics The expression discrediting… … Wikipedia
Otto F. Kernberg — Born 1928 Vienna, Austria … Wikipedia
Narcissistic abuse — is a term that emerged in the late twentieth century, and became more prominent in the early 21st century. It originally referred to a specific form of emotional abuse by narcissistic parents of their children parents who require the child to… … Wikipedia
Narcissistic personality disorder — See also: Narcissism and Malignant narcissism Narcissistic personality disorder Classification and external resources Narcissus by Caravaggio. Narcissus gazing at his own ref … Wikipedia
Christianity — /kris chee an i tee/, n., pl. Christianities. 1. the Christian religion, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches. 2. Christian beliefs or practices; Christian quality or character: Christianity mixed with pagan elements; … Universalium
Splitting (psychology) — Splitting can be explained as thinking purely in extremes, e.g. good versus bad, powerful versus defenseless and so on. A two year old child cannot see a person who does something unpleasant to the child (e.g. not feeding him when he is hungry),… … Wikipedia