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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A psychodynamics of value: developmental, multicultural, and psychotherapeutic implications Neuhasler, Angela E.F.


This thesis presents a developmental and psychodynamic model of value that attempts to identify generic elements which are viewed as essentially transcultural. The central concept is that the self has the innate tendency to assign a value to its interaction with objects relative to their need-fulfilling function. That is, the self is first aware of the value of an object to itself; and secondarily becomes aware of the object in and of itself. This model rests on the assumption that the need for self-cohesion is fundamental and that the cathection of value can largely be seen as a function of meeting this need; particularly in early developmental stages. However, the value attached to objects may vary and this model distinguishes three generic forms of such value relativization: a) Developmental; b)Situational; and, c) Systemic-Institutionalized. This study discusses in detail how such relativization of value at all stages of development results in the experience of ambivalent tensions that can potentially threaten the sense of self-cohesion. It is suggested that this condition motivates the development of intrapsychic structure in three fundamental directions: a) The differentiation of ego functions; b) The development of superego structure; and, c) Defensive splitting of self and objects. The latter will tend to be emphasized where the self feels overwhelmed at the task of integrating a new and more complex awareness of the relativized objects of value. Thismodel is presented within a developmental framework which includes: a) The Preoedipal Stage; b) The Oedipal Stage; c) The Adolescent Stage; and, d) The Adult Stage. Finally, this study specifically considers the cross-cultural context as particularly relevant because it is in this context, this thesis maintains, that the psychodynamics of value are often most graphically observed.

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