Mature Selfobject Experience: George Hagman
This chapter will explore the nature and function of mature selfobject experience in human psychology and in analytic treatment. Self psychology began with the clinical study of narcissistic character disorders. It was during his analysis of these patients that Kohut identified the archaic transferences, the study of which led to all subsequent elaborations of self-psychological theory and practice (Kohut, 1971). The keystone of Kohut's clinical edifice was and remains the concept of the selfobject. Since 1971 an enormous literature has expanded on Kohut's observations and theories. An important facet of this discussion has been the changing nature of selfobject experience throughout development and maturation. Most self psychologists have focused on archaic selfobject relating; however, it is recognized that selfobject experience plays a part in psychological life throughout the life span. Developmentally advanced levels of selfobject experience have been referred to as mature selfobjects. In spite of the importance of this concept in our understanding of human psychology beyond the earliest stages of childhood, it has remained poorly developed. In his last work, Kohut (1984) moved the concept of mature selfobject relating closer to center stage. Others have recognized its importance, but they have not elaborated on Kohut's points beyond a superliciallevel.