The Essential Other: A Developmental Psychology of the Self


In its evolution, psychoanalysis has increasingly recognized that human behavior is as motivated by the search for a coherent sense of self as it is impelled by drives and defenses. In this comprehensive study of development, Robert Galatzer-Levy and Bertram Cohler examine how across the course of life- infancy, toddlerhood, early childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, senescence- humans primarily structure their experience by creating meaning from their relations with other people. Drawing on resources from diverse fields, including psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and literature, this book clarifies the mass of thinking and research findings in human development. Plentiful and precise examples illuminate the principles and empirical findings discussed. The authors' multifaceted approach to understanding development allows them to examine how smaller developmental pathways- such as the growth of interpersonal skills, the awakening of the sexual self, the search for integrity- contribute throughout life to the search for solace, support, and meaning in the context of essential others. Packed with insights from many sources, this expansive description of the growth of the self will be an invaluable reference for both practitioners and researchers.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1993


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