Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

The Personality Disorders through the Lens of Attachment Theory and the Neurobiologic Development of the Self

Academic journal article The Journal of Psychohistory

The Personality Disorders through the Lens of Attachment Theory and the Neurobiologic Development of the Self

Article excerpt

The Personality Disorders Through the Lens of Attachment Theory and the Neurobiologic Development of the Self, ed. James F. Masterson. Phoenix, Ariz.: Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, 2006. 296pp. $39.50 (Hardcover)

Reviewed by Lloyd deMause

James Masterson is the most significant psychoanalyst integrating British Attachment Theory and self-psychology. His work is crucial to psychohistorians wishing to understand how early childhood abuse and neglect get imprinted in the brain and defended against/acted out in adult personality disorders.

Masterson helps those psychoanalysts trained at his Institute discover how maternal unavailability during the first three years lead to fears of self-activation, producing anxiety and depression: what I myself termed "growth panic." In this important work, Masterson and his associates show how the attachment disorders of infancy are deeply internalized in the right brain-mainly in the right orbital prefrontal cortex and the right amygdala. The rest of life then becomes a search for someone who might value (for the first time) one's real self. The patients described in the chapters are filled with convictions that the reason they were not valued for their real selves must be because they were bad, a conviction that is defended against by fusing with grandiose omnipotent part units or by devaluing oneself and becoming cut off from meaningful human relationships. …

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