Skip to main content

Bipolar Self

BIPOLAR SELF

The bipolar self is made up of two components: the grandiose self, that of mirroring or ambitions; and the idealized parental imago, that of both idealization and ideals. The two poles are linked together by a tension arc, the alter ego. First appearing in Heinz Kohut's The Restoration of the Self (1977), the bipolar self was the hallmark of a new metapsychology: generalized self psychology.

The two constituent poles of the self are formed in response to the degree of the receptivity of caregivers to the subject's narcissistic needs. The grandiose self acquires its strength through the responses of the self objects to mirroring needs, and the idealized parental imago by means of responses that enable fusion. Together both sectors are a source of strength to the self. Each pole is a possibility, a potential for the self. One pole can compensate for the other, and the self will be fragile only if both poles have been thwarted.

When its earliest needs have not been responded to, the infant turns to a less rejecting source. In such a case, it is this second source that will be activated and worked through in the transference, leaving the earliest traumas in the dark. Anything that has been resolved or surmounted will not be examined in analysis. Developments that are no longer the result of conflict are seen as a natural process if narcissism is taken to be a given.

AgnÈs Oppenheimer

See also: Grandiose self; Idealized parental imago; Kohut, Heinz; Self psychology.

Bibliography

Kohut, Heinz. (1977). The restoration of the self. New York: International Universities Press.

. (1984). How does analysis cure? Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bipolar Self." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Apr. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bipolar Self." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bipolar-self

"Bipolar Self." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved April 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/bipolar-self

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.