chapter  16
12 Pages

Neutrality Under Attack: Devaluation in the Therapeutic Relationship

To devalue is to diminish the worth of something, to attack, to criticize. Criticism can be a relatively constructive, objective investigation of merits and faults, as when we use our critical faculties to point out meanings or shortcomings in order to change. The function of devaluation, however, is to hurt or to annihilate. While criticism can be constructive, devaluation always has a dual function, that of weakening, hurting, or even annihilating the object while protecting the defensive false self.