Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships

Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships


Sullivan’s theory can be used in clinical settings with clients who have:

Anxiety disorders: Anxiety disorders comprise of the anxiety component which is associated with cautious and avoidant behaviours to anticipated threats; by exploring Sullivan’s “not-me” self concept which is associated with intense anxiety, therapist will be able to understand the related thoughts and beliefs.

Depressive disorders: The distinguishing factors of depressive disorders are the presence of the constant sad, empty, irritable mood; Sullivan’s concept of the “need for satisfaction” which includes the physical, emotional and physiological factors which are necessary and important for an individual’s general wellbeing helps to understand the causes of depressive disorders well.

Eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders: This has detrimental effects on the psycho-social and physical elements of an individual. Obsessive compulsive disorders are distinguished by the intrusive preoccupation and repeated behaviours; it can be said that both types of disorders consist of a compulsive element in which they are impelled to complete certain tasks or sets of behaviours. Sullivan’s “Bad-Me” and “Good-Me” concepts are helpful to understand this in which individuals try to avoid the disciplinary outcomes through controlling aspects of their lives, and in the other in which the goal for the individuals is to gain approval.

Personality disorders: Personality disorders associate with pervasive maladaptive inner experience and behaviours that diverge from the conventional cultural norms. Sullivan’s “me-you” concept consists of conjuring a fictional image of self and correlative image of others can be used to understand the paranoia and emotional features of Cluster A and Cluster B personality disorders. In which an individual’s inner experience and behaviours may be tendentious by the inaccurate intentional of patterns of interaction.


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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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