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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 (psychology)|splitting]]. Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good.<ref>M. Kraft Goin (1998). [http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/p981153.html ''Borderline Personality Disorder: Splitting Countertransference.''] The Psychiatric Times, vol. 15 issue 11</ref> 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.
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In [[psychoanalytic theory]], when an individual is unable to integrate difficult feelings towards an [[ambivalent]] object (internal or external) , specific [[defenses]] are mobilized to overcome what the individual perceives as an unbearable situation. The [[defense mechanism]] that helps in this process is called [[splitting (psychology)|splitting]]. Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good.<ref>M. Kraft Goin (1998). [http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/p981153.html ''Borderline Personality Disorder: Splitting Countertransference.''] The Psychiatric Times, vol. 15 issue 11</ref>.
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*When viewing people as all good, the individual is said to be using '''idealization''': a mental mechanism in which the person attributes exaggeratedly positive qualities to the self or others.
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*When viewing people as all bad, the individual employs '''devaluation''': attributing exaggeratedly negative qualities to the self or others.
   
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==Idealization==
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In idealization there is not only the construction of the ideal perfect object but the subsequent [[reification]] of the idea <ref>[[Charles Rycroft|Rycroft, C.]] (1995). Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. London:Penguin </ref>.
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This process leads to the [[denial]] of the negative aspects of the object and can lead to an emotional dependence on the idealized person and, if extensively used, underpins the development of [[Dependency (personality)|dependency]] as a [[personality trait]] and [[dependent personality disorder]]
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As [[Rycroft]] points out
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<blockquote>Idealization is a defence against the consequences of recognizing ambivalence and purchases freedom from [[guilt]] and [[depression]] at the loss of [[self esteem]]. Failure of the defeence leads to [[disillusion]] and depression. </blockquote>
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In its more general meaning of an "overvalued view of others", [[projection]] is the more dominant defence mechanism.
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==Devaluation==
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==In child development==
 
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.
 
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.
   
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==See also==
 
==See also==
 
 
* [[Borderline personality disorder]]
 
* [[Borderline personality disorder]]
 
* [[Discrediting tactic]]
 
* [[Discrediting tactic]]
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* [[Narcissistic elation]]
 
* [[Narcissistic elation]]
 
* [[Narcissistic personality disorder]]
 
* [[Narcissistic personality disorder]]
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* [[Scapegoating]]
   
 
==References==
 
==References==
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<references/>
   
 
==Further reading==
 
==Further reading==
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===Papers===
 
===Papers===
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Rycroft, C. (1955). On idealization, illusion and catastrophic disillusion. In Imagination and Reality. Hogarth Press:London. (1968)
   
 
==Additional material==
 
==Additional material==

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In psychoanalytic theory, when an individual is unable to integrate difficult feelings towards an ambivalent object (internal or external) , specific defenses are mobilized to overcome what the individual perceives as an unbearable situation. The defense mechanism that helps in this process is called splitting. Splitting is the tendency to view events or people as either all bad or all good.[1].

  • When viewing people as all good, the individual is said to be using 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.

Idealization

In idealization there is not only the construction of the ideal perfect object but the subsequent reification of the idea [2].

This process leads to the denial of the negative aspects of the object and can lead to an emotional dependence on the idealized person and, if extensively used, underpins the development of dependency as a personality trait and dependent personality disorder

As Rycroft points out

Idealization is a defence against the consequences of recognizing ambivalence and purchases freedom from guilt and depression at the loss of self esteem. Failure of the defeence leads to disillusion and depression.

In its more general meaning of an "overvalued view of others", projection is the more dominant defence mechanism.


Devaluation

In child development

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.

Freud

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.[3][4] 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 defenses 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.[5]

Kohut

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.[6][7] 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.[8]

Kernberg

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 other end of the continuum, idealization is said to be a necessary precursor for feelings of mature love.[9]


See also

References

  1. M. Kraft Goin (1998). Borderline Personality Disorder: Splitting Countertransference. The Psychiatric Times, vol. 15 issue 11
  2. Rycroft, C. (1995). Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. London:Penguin
  3. Joseph, E.D. (1978). The Ego Ideal of the Psychoanalyst. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 59:377-385.
  4. Carver, C.S. & Scheier, M.F. (2000). Perspectives on Personality. Needham Heights: Allyn & Bacon.
  5. Spruiell, V. (1979). Freud's Concepts of Idealization. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 27:777-791
  6. Corbett, L. (1989). Kohut and Jung A Comparison of Theory and Therapy
  7. Newirth, J.W. (1987). Idealization and Interpretation. Contemporary Psychoanalysis 23, 239-243.
  8. Mitchell, S.A., & Black, M.J. (1995). Freud and beyond. New York: Basic Books.
  9. Lerner, P.M., Van-Der Keshet, Y. (1995). A Note on the Assessment of Idealization. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65 (1) 77-90

Further reading

Key texts

Books

Papers

Rycroft, C. (1955). On idealization, illusion and catastrophic disillusion. In Imagination and Reality. Hogarth Press:London. (1968)

Additional material

Books

Papers

External links


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