Self-Psychology and Diagnostic Assessment: Identifying Selfobject Functions through Psychological Testing

By Marshall L. Silverstein | Go to book overview

4
Content Analysis of Psychodiagnostic Testing: A Pathway to Understanding Self States

In previous chapters, I presented the general principles of psychoanalytic self psychology. Here I propose a framework for conceptualizing these phenomena by using psychodiagnostic tests. I describe the links that bridge key concepts of self psychology with psychological testing findings, in the hope of specifying how self psychological concepts, particularly selfobject functions, can be evaluated in the test material. It is my intention to emphasize a way of viewing the material generated by a battery of projective psychological tests. Thus, unfolding content, associations, fantasy productions, and manner of engagement with the examiner may produce a systematic way of understanding this material from the viewpoint of self psychology. Although I stress conceptual guidelines to the interpretation of test content derived from Kohut's ideas, neither specific criteria nor formal test scores or indices should be expected to emerge from this attempt.

Empirically derived formal scores, algorithms, or combinations of scores producing decision strategies may eventually be derived; a score-based interpretive strategy necessarily lags behind a precise articulation of the theoretical foundation of Kohut's crucial concepts. The general approaches to interpreting psychological testing that I present are those described by Rapaport, Gill, and Schafer ( 1945, 1968), Schachtel ( 1966), Allison Blatt, and Zimet ( 1968), and Lerner and Lerner ( H. D. Lerner & P. M. Lerner, 1988; P. M. Lerner, 1991).

I do not attempt to restore a former tradition or to argue for one conceptual approach over another. Rather, my intent is to provide a theoretical structure that makes use of a content-derived interpretive strategy for examining and understanding self disorders. I begin by reconsidering indications for diagnostic testing in light of contemporary theoretical formulations of clinical psychopathology. I then review several customary

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