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Schizoid Phenomena, Object-Relations, and…

Schizoid Phenomena, Object-Relations, and the Self

by Harry Guntrip

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The concept of a self-persecutory element within the personality originated with object relations theorists. Harry Guntrip, in his book Schizoid Phenomena, Object Relations and the Self(1969), makes the claim that it is a primary drive in every human being to become a 'person' ... to develop a personality in order to live. Guntrip claims that "[t]here are no fears worse or deeper than those which arise out of having to cope with life when one feels that one is just not a real person" (p. 175). And that "[t]his feeling of weakness consists not in lack of energy or innate ability, but in this unremitting state of basic fear and distress and lack of self-confidence of which the individual feels ashamed" (p. 183). "A self-frustrating situation of deep internal self-hate arises, along with a concentrated attempt to drive and force oneself to the conscious feelings and pattern of behaviour that is regarded as adult" (p. 187). "The degree of self-hate and self-persecution going on in the unconscious determines the degree of the illness" (p. 190).

Guntrip reveals the extent to which the twentieth mid-century analysis of the "schizoid phenomena" was encompassing vast areas in the disruption of self formation, quite similar to the 1990's analysis of the borderline personality. "The schizoid condition consists in the first place in an attempt to cancel external object relations and live in a detached and withdrawn way" (p. 19). To contrast with depression, Guntrip argues that "depression is object-relational. The schizoid person has renounced objects, even though he still needs them" (pp. 17-18). "However much the schizoid person tries to make contact he is always withdrawing" (p. 61).
  antimuzak | Aug 26, 2006 |
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