In the Living between Worlds post we discussed the general structure of the psyche from the Jungian perspective. Now we will take a detailed look at the Psychopathology Function.
Nancy McWilliams published a second edition of her “Psychoanalytic Diagnosis” book, where she presented a modern psychoanalytic model of mental diseases, rendered as personality structures for the clinical therapy. This model is defined to help to decide on the method of therapy to apply in each case. In other words, the model actually describes the groups of methods rather than the personality types.
The main idea is that an individual has to go through a development process, and sometimes it does not go as planned. Depending on the stage of the development where the issue occurred, an individual manifests different symptoms.
There are three major personality structures:
Neurotic personality can be applied to a large group of people with minor emotional distress. They still have a high objective and rational capacity to function. While they might use primary defenses like yelling, they mostly rely on the mature secondary defenses under stress such as repression. Neurotics have a good sense of identity and consistency, can express their values, virtues, and shortcomings in a multi-dimensional manner. Also they have a solid sense of reality without major distortions. The major neurotic symptoms are anxiety and low self esteem. They seek therapy to reduce some repeating conflicts of their own making, and expand some capacities that they are lacking. Usually such symptoms indicate problems during the father stage of development.
Psychotic personality under stress have severe symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, illogical thinking, being paranoid and terrified. They use primary defenses such as denial, withdrawal, omnipotent control, primitive idealization, and extreme dissociation. The major symptom is their hostility. Psychotics have a problem with own identity up to questioning own existence. They are deeply confused who they are. They are not in touch with reality, and often go too far into magical thinking. They have issues with getting perspectives on their own psychological problems as they lack reflective thinking.
Borderline personality exhibit use of primary defenses under stress, but can change behavior when confronted. They have a confusion about own identity, but they know they exist. They have trouble of being tolerant and self-regulate, but can remain silent or provide one-dimensional answer. Usually they don’t want to change their personality. When they alone, they feel abandoned, but when they feel close to someone else, they panic of fear of losing total control, which drives others to feel exhausted. Usually such symptoms indicate problems during the mother stage of development.
While most of us can sometimes experience any of those symptoms, it is important to evaluate them from the long-term perspective, how repetitive and typical they are. Regardless of personality structure, such people usually live and work, have families, and are members of the community. Some of them attend psychotherapy sessions, some visit psychiatric wards, but most just live as best as they can.
It is important to remind that the severity of these psychopathological symptoms reflect the severity of the split between instincts and the ego. They are just indicators that the social function went too far off. People are getting stuck in impossible situations, but persist in old thinking. The unconscious is trying to heal such splits by sending those indicators, including changes in energy level, feelings, and dream imagery. This is the cost of civilization, its conventional morality, and still ongoing maturation of the consciousness.