Handbook of Interpersonal Psychology: Theory, Research, Assessment and Therapeutic Interventions

By Leonard M. Horowitz; Stephen Strack | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Leslie C. Morey

The disciplines of personality, social, and clinical psychology have long struggled to identify an emergent paradigm that can help consolidate the many and disparate contributions that scholars have made to these fields. Dating back to Sigmund Freud (e.g., 1895, 1916–1917), various expansive theories have been offered, but these theories have typically demonstrated profound limitations in their capacity to generate specific and testable hypotheses regarding human behavior. This volume represents compelling evidence that the interpersonal tradition in psychology has matured to a point that it represents a viable contender to serve as such a consolidating model.

One of the earliest challenges to Freud’s overarching model of personality came from Alfred Adler (e.g., 1951, 2002). For Freud, most of the dynamic elements of personality were intrapsychic; interpersonal relations were conceived as following relatively fixed templates with a limited number of characteristic outcomes. Adler observed that the interpersonal milieu of the developing person reflected a powerful and ever-changing source of motivation through social comparison, and the adaptations to this milieu resulted in diverse yet consistent patterns of motivations and behaviors, patterns that continued to be responsive to the social environment throughout life. These themes were refined and expanded by Harry Stack Sullivan (e.g., 1953a, 1953b), who provided keen insight into how interpersonal mechanisms could help provide meaning even to the most severe forms of psychopathology. Such seminal ideas were further developed by succeeding generations of interpersonal scholars, such as Timothy Leary (1957), who proposed a revolutionary circumplex model for mapping interpersonal characteristics as well as a means for representing these elements at various levels of awareness and automaticity; and Jerry Wiggins (e.g., 2003; Wiggins, Trapnell, & Phillips, 1988), who provided both a strategy for understanding the origins of the salient dimensions of the model as well as critical refinements in measuring these dimensions. Many other important figures, such as Robert Carson (e.g., 1969), Donald Kiesler (e.g., 1983), and Maurice Lorr (e.g., 1996), introduced and elaborated principles (such as the principle of complementarity) to understand components of these models as dynamic processes as well as personological styles. Such giants in the field provided a rich and comprehensive foundation from which the contemporary field of interpersonal science could flourish.

-xi-

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