Changing Internal Representations of Self and Other: Philosophical Tools for Attachment-informed Psychotherapy With Perpetrators and Victims of Violence
- Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 24, Number 3, September 2017
- pp. 241-255
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Attachment research shows that the formation of unconscious, insecure representations of the self, the other, and the self–other relations is linked to perpetration and receipt of violence. Attachment-focused therapy aims to change these internal schemata to more secure, adaptive representations by therapeutic work addressed to senses, emotions, and behavior. The paper proposes a new approach to altering the self and other representations in offenders and victims: It involves intellectual reflection on self, will, action, and responsibility informed by Augustine's views, facilitated by actual relational experience, and translated into a distinct self-soothing strategy. The reflective–experiential approach can complement existing methods of working with violent or traumatized individuals both within and outside an attachment theory framework. It consists both in identifying that a non-reflective non-distinction between self and behavior supports damaging self- and other-representations and interactions, and in proposing ways for clients to comprehend and consciously operate with the distinction between self and action.