One model that has often proved helpful for an understanding of oneself is a self-psychology theory because this provides a good framework for understanding issues of self-esteem. Although it is something of a cliché, it is also true that nearly everyone has suffered at one time or another from low self-esteem and this model helps to raise self-esteem. However, it does not do so in any ungrounded or artificial way.
Rather, this model allows one to substitute one’s own self (or a therapist) as the person who provides for oneself. All people have a need for others. This is most obviously the case when one is young and is looking to one’s parents and other early childhood caretakers, each of whom performs what are sometimes called “self-object” functions.
Part of gaining self-knowledge is understanding and appreciating the degree to which one can take care of oneself and not rely on others – especially on those others that have proven to be untrustworthy in the past. Understanding one’s own power to take care of oneself allows one to reclaim and repair part of one’s past. Elements of the past that cause continual problems for oneself – or client – can allow the subject to “repair” one’s sense of self by substituting new pieces of information that either one creates or that the patient and the therapist create together.
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