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

By Marshall L. Silverstein | Go to book overview

5
Clinical Indications of Selfobject Functions: Mirroring

In this chapter, I consider the mirroring selfobject function as it appears on projective tests. I focus here on mirroring as a selfobject function that results in the sense of vitalization or buoyancy of the self. Mirroring is a way that people experience feeling affirmed or admired, a view that comes close to Kohut ( 1977, 1984) final thinking about mirroring. Although mirroring originates in the grandiose-exhibitionistic pole of the self, to use Kohut ( 1966, 1971) earlier description, his later writings emphasized affirmation rather than surface grandiosity as the more fundamental self state. I first discuss psychodiagnostic testing indicators of grandiosity, but I emphasize that grandiosity as seen on projective tests should be reconsidered in terms of an expanded view of disturbed or insufficient mirroring.

The remainder of this chapter consists of a large number of clinical examples of mirroring. I illustrate admiration as a normal mirroring selfobject need and disillusionment and devaluation as pathological forms of mirroring selfobject failures. These examples include both Rorschach and TAT responses from Schafer, Lerner, Holt, and Sugarman. In my discussion, I attempt to demonstrate that the self psychological view of mirroring can be applied to projective test responses to provide an alternative view beyond drive theory or object relations frameworks for understanding personality dynamics and psychopathology.

The clinical illustrations to be presented are vignettes of projective testing responses rather than complete cases. (I present two cases in their entirety as the focus of chaps. 7 & 8.) Although the in-depth material of fully integrated cases does not appear until chapters 7 and 8, I am not advocating basing completed clinical interpretations on isolated examples such as those used throughout the present chapter. The following examples are illustrative, but not necessarily decisive.

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