The return to the self: a self relation theory

As we developed better methods to help patients to mobilize their instroke process, the natural, spontaneous result was the elaboration of the concepts of the Endo self — an early, self-organizing, unified, embodied, sense of self whose unique quality is that it exists before contact with the “other” — and a Self Relations Theory as the obverse of an Object Relations theory. As patients continued to move in more deeply, their themes in the therapy moved from other oriented to self oriented themes. We began to hear a steady stream of self-referential comments and reportings that were realistic, but non-judgmental. For example: “I love myself beyond the good and the bad.” And then their relationship to themselves became dominant. “I feel an extreme presence in the absence of my self”. The result was: “The important thing I realize is that this is between me and myself.” It then became evident to work deeply with patients they needed to first clarify their relation with themselves for this is the basis of all relationships with others.

In developmental theory and psychotherapy, there is an overemphasis on the role of the other. The other is not the creator of the self, but an essential enabler. The self is revealed in relationship, but subjectivity exists a priori to relationship.