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THE INTERPERSONAL

THEORY OF
PSYCHIATRY

Harry Stack Sullivan

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
born on February 21, 1892, in Norwich, New
York; the only surviving child
After serving in World War I as a first lieutenant
in the Medical Corps, Sullivan worked at
government and private hospitals in Maryland
and Washington, D.C. Here he began his
intensive studies of schizophrenia
Sullivan was a lifelong bachelor
died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Paris on
January 14, 1949, while returning home from a
mental health conference in Amsterdam

BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN


BEINGS
One-Genus Postulate similarities among
human personalities far exceed the
differences
The Need for Others personality is
shaped primarily by social forces, with the
childs lengthy period of dependence making
it particularly vulnerable to influence by
others

BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN


BEINGS
Energy Sullivan (1953b) saw personality as
an energy system
Tension
Needs
Tenderness
Anxiety
Empathy
Euphoria

BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN


BEINGS
Energy Sullivan (1953b) saw personality as
an energy system
Energy Transformations
Dynamisms personality is a dynamic
process, and is constantly in a state of
flux
-- We transform physical energy, rather
than libido, into behaviors designed to
satisfy our needs

BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN


BEINGS
Modes of Experiencing/Levels of Cognition
Prototaxic Mode
Parataxic Mode
-- characterized by the use of private or
autistic symbols, and by the ability to
distinguish differences in time
Syntaxic Mode
-- can be communicated through the use of
symbols that are socially accepted and
understood

BASIC NATURE OF HUMAN


BEINGS
Teleology
human behavior must be understood in
terms of both causality and teleology
Our capacity for foresight develops in
early infancy, and represents one of the
striking characteristics of the human
species

STRUCTURE OF
PERSONALITY
A.SELF-SYSTEM a consistent pattern of
behaviors that maintains peoples interpersonal
security by protecting them from anxiety
-- conjunctive dynamism that arises out of the
interpersonal situation
. SECURITY OPERATIONS the purpose of
which is to reduce feelings of insecurity or
anxiety that result from endangered self-esteem
. Dissociation
. Selective Inattention

STRUCTURE OF
PERSONALITY
B.NOT-ME PERSONIFICATION a shadowy
and dreadful aspect of personality that is
usually unconscious
-- involves material so threatening that even
the bad-me personification cannot cope with
it
C.OTHER DEFENSIVE BEHAVIORS
. sublimation

DEVELOPMENT OF
PERSONALITY
1.Infancy
2.Childhood
3.The Juvenile Era
4.Preadolescence
5.Early Adolescence
6.Late Adolescence
7.Adulthood

PSYCHOLOGICAL
DISORDERS
SCHIZOPHRENIA
People with a dissociated personality, in
common with all people, attempt to minimize
anxiety by building an elaborate self-system
that blocks out those experiences that
threaten their security.
Whereas normal individuals feel relatively
secure in their interpersonal relations and do
not need to constantly rely on dissociation as
a means of protecting self-esteem, mentally
disordered individuals dissociate many of
their experiences from their self-system.

PSYCHOTHERAPY
Sullivan based his therapeutic procedures on
an effort to improve a patients relationship
with others
Sullivanian therapy is aimed at uncovering
patients difficulties in relating to others
The therapeutic ingredient in this process is
the face-to-face relationship between
therapist and patients, which permits patients
to reduce anxiety and to communicate with
others on the syntaxic level.

THE INTERPERSONAL
THEORY OF
PSYCHIATRY

Harry Stack Sullivan