Home Personal Psychology Personality Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships

Harry Stack Sullivan: Energy and Interpersonal Relationships

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The total configuration of personality traits is known as the self-system, which develops in various stages. Sullivan called it as ‘developmental epochs’ This is the outgrowth of interpersonal experiences and not the unfolding of intrapsychic forces. According to Sullivan Developmental Epochs involves:

Infant (age 0 – 1 year): receives tenderness or learn anxiety from mother

Child (age 1 – 4 years): seeks participation of adults as audience for play

Juvenile (4 – 8 years): seeks competition, cooperation and compromising with peers

Preadolescent (8 – 13 years; puberty): seeks intimacy, collaboration and lovingness with same-sex peer (i.e. best friend). This so-called chum period is the prototype for a sense of intimacy. Sullivan believed that an early harbinger of schizophrenia is the absence of a chum or buddy.

Early Adolescent (13 – 16 years; post-puberty): seeks intimacy, collaboration, lovingness and sexual interest with opposite-sex person

Late Adolescent (after 16 years): seeks sexual interactions with others

Adult (post-adolescence): establishes stable relationship with significant other person and has consistent pattern of viewing the world

There are three modes of experiencing and thinking about the world: i.) The Prototaxic mode, ii.) The Parataxic mode & iii.) The Syntaxic mode. All three happen side by side in all persons; in rare case a person can be found to work only in the Syntaxic mode.

The Prototaxic mode: the undifferentiated thought that is unable to separate the whole into parts or to use symbols

The Parataxic mode: sees events as causally related because of temporal or serial connections, in the absence of logical relationships

The Syntaxic mode: the logical, rational & mature cognitive functioning

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