Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships

Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships

The total configuration of personality traits is known as the self-system, which develops in various stages. Sullivan called it as ‘developmental epochs’ This is the outgrowth of interpersonal experiences and not the unfolding of intrapsychic forces. According to Sullivan Developmental Epochs involves:

Infant (age 0 – 1 year): receives tenderness or learn anxiety from mother

Child (age 1 – 4 years): seeks participation of adults as audience for play

Juvenile (4 – 8 years): seeks competition, cooperation and compromising with peers

Preadolescent (8 – 13 years; puberty): seeks intimacy, collaboration and lovingness with same-sex peer (i.e. best friend). This so-called chum period is the prototype for a sense of intimacy. Sullivan believed that an early harbinger of schizophrenia is the absence of a chum or buddy.

Early Adolescent (13 – 16 years; post-puberty): seeks intimacy, collaboration, lovingness and sexual interest with opposite-sex person

Late Adolescent (after 16 years): seeks sexual interactions with others

Adult (post-adolescence): establishes stable relationship with significant other person and has consistent pattern of viewing the world

There are three modes of experiencing and thinking about the world: i.) The Prototaxic mode, ii.) The Parataxic mode & iii.) The Syntaxic mode. All three happen side by side in all persons; in rare case a person can be found to work only in the Syntaxic mode.

The Prototaxic mode: the undifferentiated thought that is unable to separate the whole into parts or to use symbols

The Parataxic mode: sees events as causally related because of temporal or serial connections, in the absence of logical relationships

The Syntaxic mode: the logical, rational & mature cognitive functioning


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About the Author

Piyali Chakrabarti

Piyali ChakrabartiPiyali is a Singapore Registered Psychologist (SRP) and an Approved Supervisor recognized by the Singapore Psychological Society. She completed her M.Phil in Medical & Social Psychology (specialization in Clinical Psychology) after completing her Masters in Applied Psychology. She is a Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapist (CTRT) through the William Glasser Institute of USA. She is also trained in Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Besides being a Psychologist at Scott Psychological Centre, Piyali continues to offer her services part-time at the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore where she had previously served as Head of the Psychology Department. Her career in mental health and clinical psychology has given her experience in counseling and therapy with diverse populations across a wide range of institutional settings like hospitals, private practice, special education centers, and schools. Piyali is experienced with supporting clients from Singapore and abroad. Having resided in different countries, she is keenly aware of the challenges and potential adjustment issues that expatriates and their families may face when settling in Singapore. Her clinical interests lie in managing anxiety and depression as well as issues related to lifestyle and relationship changes for adults and children. Apart from providing direct clinical services to clients, Piyali is passionate about developing the competency of budding psychologists through providing clinical supervision. She is also involved in teaching Psychology courses, such as, Diploma & Master level. Recognizing the effectiveness of different intervention modalities, she also conducts workshops.

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