Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships
This complex process brings us to Sullivan’s “self” concept which involves organisation of experiences within the personality. Self is constructed from the reflected appraisals of oneself that forms a body of beliefs to the person’s personality. It is also considered as a complex organisation of experiences for avoiding anxiety; it develops from associating one’s behaviours with the mother’s affective state. Sullivan discriminated between three forms of self based on experiences and behaviours that induce anxiety in the mother:
“Good-me,” (ii) “bad-me” and (iii) “not-me”
“Good-me” developed with experiences and behaviours that meet with mother’s approval bringing about tenderness and little anxiety; associated with a sense of security and relaxation
“Bad-me” developed with experiences and behaviours that induces more anxiety in mother; associated with increasing anxiety
“Not-me” developed with experiences and behaviours that evokes intense anxiety in the mother which is so dreadful that the child obliterates from his awareness; associated with intense anxiety.
Personality is believed to be acquired through the subjective images of self and others through the developmental stages referred to as personifications. “Good-mother” (involves tenderness and responsiveness to needs) and “bad-mother” (involves anxious experiences) are composite personifications for an infant.