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Love, Admiration, Or Safety; by Elinor Greenberg.

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

A System of Gestalt Diagnosis of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations that Focuses on What Is Figure for the Client.


Greenberg proposes a system of Gestalt diagnosis of Borderline, Narcissistic and Schizoid adaptations that focuses on what repeatedly becomes figure for the client during interactions with others. She reconceptualizes Borderline, Narcissistic and Schizoid personality disorders as relatively inflexible organizations of the organism/environment field that are made and remade at each moment at the contact boundary through figure/ground formation. She introduces the concept of an “Interpersonal Gestalt”(IG), to describe the process by which individuals selectively attend to those aspects of the interpersonal field that relate to their deepest interpersonal wishes and fears. Greenberg suggests that Gestalt therapy field theory supplies a useful and missing interface between infant developmental models, object relations theory, and what is observable during therapy sessions. She then describes how the different personality disorders can be distinguished from each other by their characteristic way of organizing the interpersonal field.

Love, Admiration, Or Safety A System of Gestalt Diagnosis of Borderline, Narcissistic, an
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Greenberg, E. (1999). Love, admiration, or safety: A system of gestalt diagnosis of borderline, narcissistic, and schizoid adaptations that focuses on what is figure for the client. In M.Spagnuolo Lobb (Ed.), Studies in Gestalt Therapy, No. 8, 1999, Ragusa-Siracusa-Italy.

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