chapter  4
The Self, the Self-Representation, the Psychical Self, Introduction
Byand Their Social Network 112
Pages 41

When psychoanalysts talk or write about the self, it is always necessary to question what exactly it is they are talking about because the term is used in so many, often idiosyncratic, ways. We need to begin by looking at this unintentional conundrum and then move on to more fertile ground: what allied disciplines-neuroscience, postmodernism, and attachment theory among them-have added to our understanding of the concept of self that makes it so much more useful and interesting. This is not a theoretical exercise. The self, the real one, is becoming clinically relevant in ways that have yet to be considered in the psychoanalytic literature. Perhaps the most important one is that if we conceptualize the psychoanalytic process as acting on the self, then it is for once acting on something that actually exists, not some construct. The topic of the self ’s relations with the social matrix in which it fi nds itself, similarly undervalued over the years, has also recently become more interesting as it has taken a new and complex turn.