CAPP Conversations are a series of conversations for psychotherapists by the Chicago Association for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Here is the March Conversation:
A CAPP Conversation
To what extent is the self shaped by the social world in which it develops? And to what extent is that social shaping of the self recognized by theory and training in psychotherapy?
From the beginning, the vision of personality in psychoanalysis, and the various schools that evolved out of and around it, focused mainly on dynamics within a limited field of relationships: the attachment dyad, the Oedipal triad, the family system. This view of human nature, valuable as it can be, fails to give proper proportion to the person in society—and society in the person. The neural networks of the brain form in neuroplastic response to impacts from many people, and many subcultures of society, from the block to the school, the church or temple, the workplace, the ethnic culture, the nation and beyond. The relationship of the individual to society becomes particularly salient for psychotherapy when the client’s self has developed in a disempowering social context. Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) grew out of the recognition that the central role of relationships, particularly in the lives of women and minorities, and the experience of inequality in relationships, needed to be appreciated for counseling/psychotherapy to be adequate to the needs of clients with these experiences.