Attachment Theory & Self-Psychology Dissertation

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The "Growing" Process

Overview of the Study

Clinical Case Study Dissertation Structure

The Rationale for Clinical Case Study Dissertation

Diverse Contentions

Emotional Abuse/Maltreatment

Winnicott's Relational Model Theory

Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Kohut's Self-Psychology


Theoretical Basis for Case


Winnicott's Relational Model Theory

Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Kohut's Self-Psychology


Shania's Presenting Problems

Early Stage: Development of Therapeutic Relationship and the Holding


Middle Stage: Transference and Counter-transference

Late Stage: Differentiation and Individuation




Necessary Insight

Recount of Clinical Case Study Dissertation Results




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Figure 1: Differences Between Discipline and Abuse 10

Figure 2: Donald Winnicott 13

Figure 3: John Bowlby 18

Figure 4: Heinz Kout 25

Figure 5: Representation of Girl Feeling Alone and Sad 38

Figure 6: Three Self-object Functions 49

Table 1: Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Abuse 11



TOPIC: Dissertation on Attachment Theory & Self-Psychology Assignment


"! have always held the view that the internal world is a reflection of the external world and there is a constant interaction you can't understand one without the other."

Bowlby, 1985, p. 20; cited by MacDonald, 2001, ¶ 3)

1.1 The "Growing" Process

In the treatment of the patient, Bowlby (1985, p. 20; cited by MacDonald, 2001, ¶ 3) purports, one cannot understand a patient's internal world without examining his/her external environment, as the two constantly interact. During the process of "growing" this clinical case study dissertation, this researcher utilizes Object Relation, Attachment Theories, and Self-Psychology to explore the internal and external world of one particular patient, a 43-year-old female, presenting concerns apparently evolving from paternal relations she experienced during her childhood. In the book, Writing Your Doctoral Dissertation: Invisible Rules for Success, Brause (2000, p. 12) compares the dissertation process to several experiences, including "gardening" and "a coming of age." This researcher contends the process utilized to complete this clinical case study dissertation compares to a combination of both. In the gardening model, as the doctoral candidate notes on growth process from seed to flower, he/she recognizes needs for figurative:

patient weeding, fertilizing, watering, and constant monitoring to adjust for unpredictable factors such as weather conditions and the speed of seed germination. (Brause, 2000, p. 12)

As a "reward" for invested attention to the "growing" of a garden/dissertation, the gardener/dissertation candidate ultimately reaps flowers or fruit.

Brause (2000, p. 12) notes that during the process: "The doctoral candidate may select the seeds to plant, based, for example on knowledge about the climate and soil conditions."

This metaphor, albeit, views the process as an intellectual and emotional growth process not allotting for the researcher's mental contribution. A coming of age experience, albeit brings the doctorial candidate through a stringent mind-challenging experience, (Ibid.) which in time results in the researcher perceiving the world with fresh insists, as it readies him/her face even more challenging challenges.

Through completing a dissertation, Brause (2000, p. 3) notes, the process ultimately helps the researcher learn:
  1. more about his/her discipline;
  2. to enhance his/her learning experience by writing to an audience beyond the professor teaching the course;
  3. how to organize large trucks of information;
  4. how to complete original research;
  5. how to organize his/her time to become more productive.
Likewise, this researcher contends, the therapy process may also be compared to growing a garden for both the therapist and patient, while simultaneously constituting a "coming of age" experience for the patient. During the therapy process, the therapist and patient have to weed through experiences that would hinder the patient's recovery/growth, as well as fertilize and water positive, healing components. The therapist additionally must constantly constant monitor the patient's progress and adjust for unpredictable, as well as predictable factors that potentially compliment or hinder the patient's healing/growth process. During the course of the patient's mind-challenging healing process, he/she starts to figuratively come of age and begins to perceive the world with new, more positive insights; ready to face life's challenges.

1.2 Overview of the Study This clinical case study dissertation portrays treatment of a 43-year-old depressed female (patient), utilizing theories of Winnicott, Bowlby, and Kohut, who, during her childhood, experienced a painful, conflicted relationship with her father. In addition to this patient's current preoccupation with catastrophic events, which results in manifestations of fear and dread, her relational deficiency contributed to her separating from her husband and son, constantly experiencing a sad mood, regularly feeling hopeless and helpless, and on one occasion, attempting suicide.

During this case study, this researcher demonstrates how theories by Winnicott, Bowlby, and Kohut translate into clinical applications, and prove applicable to treatment for this particular patient. To effectuate this explanative effort, this researcher initially reviews literature relating to the aforementioned theorists/theories. To illustrate theoretical framework for the conceptualization of this case study, this researcher further translates these theories into clinical interventions to explore how the patient's earliest experiences with her caregivers evolved to affect her current relationships. In addition, this researcher demonstrates how the patient's relatedness to early objects and attachment styles resulted in deficits in intimate relationship. Subsequently, this researcher further evinces how relational deficits prove contributory to major depressive, anxiety symptoms, and suicidal ideations. Approximately 906,000 children, who are victims of abuse and neglect each year in the U.S., experience rational deficits. The rate of victimization, according to National Child Abuse Statistics (2006), averages 12.3 children per 1,000 children; however, nearly 3 million child abuse reports are filed annually. The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse & Neglect Information. Long-term Consequences of Child Abuse & Neglect 2005 reports that 80% of young adults who experienced abused "met the diagnostic criteria for at least 1 psychiatric disorder at the age of 21 (including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, & post-traumatic stress disorder)." (National Child Abuse Statistics, 2006)

1.3: Clinical Case Study Dissertation Structure


1.1 Treatment of the Patient: In this section, this researcher introduces the premise for this clinical case study dissertation.

1.2 Overview of the Study: This segment relates details of the patient; noting that theories of Winnicott, Bowlby, and Kohut translate into clinical applications.

1.3 Clinical Case Study Dissertation Structure: In this section, this researcher presents a brief overview of the chapters included in this study.

1.4 Rationale for this Study: This researcher relates the reasons for this study's focus.



2.1 Diverse Contentions

2.2 Emotional Abuse/Maltreatment

2.3 Winnicott's Relational Model Theory

2.4 Bowlby's Attachment Theory

2.5 Kohut's Self-Psychology



3.1 Client History

3.2 Theoretical Basis for Case

Developmental History

Presenting Problem & Symptoms

Initial Diagnosis

3.3 Conceptualization

Winnicott's Relational Model Theory

Good-enough mothering

False self

Bowlby's Attachment Theory

Depressive symptomatology as a result of insecure attachment

Search for attachment and connection

Kohut's Self-Psychology

The Development of the Self

Internal and external objects



4.1 Early Stage: Development of Therapeutic Relationship and the Holding Environment

4.2 Middle Stage: Transference and Counter-transference

4.3 Late Stage: Differentiation and Individuation

4.4 Termination



This clinical case study dissertation's final chapter recounts the success of this process relating Object Relation, Attachment Theories, and Self-Psychology to the case highlighted through this study effort.

Recount of Clinical Case Study Dissertation Results

APPENDICES: This study segment contains material either too voluminous for a particular relevant chapter and/or relates pertinent examples.

1.4: Rationale for Clinical Case Study Dissertation Child abuse and neglect, some experts warn, constitutes a hidden epidemic. Although approximately 3 million reports of child abuse are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Attachment Theory & Self-Psychology.  (2008, October 8).  Retrieved October 24, 2021, from

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