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Why Don't People Change? A Psychoanalytic Perspective

Abstract

From a psychoanalytic perspective, a central reason that people do not easily change is their fear of the dangers that they believe, at some level, change entails. These dangers include relinquishment of infantile wishes and fantasies, anxiety that would be experienced were defenses weakened, guilt, fantasies that change would harm a parental figure or threaten a vital relationship. Other factors that prevent change and maintain the sameness of behavior include defenses, unconscious pathogenic beliefs, devotion and loyalty to early figures, stable internal working models of self, other, and prototypic interactions, and emitting cues that elicit responses from others that confirm these working models. Finally, 1 discuss some selective psychoanalytic research on therapeutic change.

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Eagle, M. Why Don't People Change? A Psychoanalytic Perspective. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration 9, 3–32 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023254726930

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  • therapeutic change
  • fear
  • anxiety
  • guilt
  • defenses
  • pathogenic beliefs
  • self–other interactions
  • psychoanalytic research