Psycho-Imagination Therapy, as developed by Joseph E. Shorr (Shorr, 1971, 1974, 1977), is based in large part on the personality theories of H. S. Sullivan and R. D. Laing. To summarize briefly these theoretical underpinnings, we must remember that Sullivan proposed an interpersonal theory of personality development. He believed that if, in the first year of life, the infant experienced security--that is, acceptance, love, and warmth from the mothering person--then the infant learned to experience him or herself as a “good me.” This became the healthy, true, real self of the person. However, when there was lack of security--that is, when the child experienced rejection and felt anxiety and separation from the mother--then the child learned to think or him or herself as a “bad me.” This neurotic, alien personality could be experienced with the same, or greater, force as the healthy, true personality. Later developments reinforce this first-year self, as the developing personality learns ways to maintain the “me” it has come to believe it is. Sullivan called these behaviors, intended to protect and preserve the “me” and avoid disturbing the status quo, “security operations.” In effect, they lead to selective inattention to fit the self, as learned, into whatever data is presented. So as developing persons, we look into others and see ourselves.
KeywordsPersonality Theory True Identity Task Imagery Security Operation Interpersonal Theory
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