Title: A Buddhist Contribution to the Psychoanalytic Psychology of Self
Author: Fredrik Falkenstrom
Abstract: The author attempts to integrate the concepts of self used in psychoanalytic theory with the understanding of the nature of self as explained within the Buddhist meditative tradition. He divides different concepts of self in psychoanalytic theory into three major levels of consciousness and abstraction: self as experience, representational self and self as system. The representational level is defined as consisting of unconscious organizing structures of interaction: the system level is a hierarchically higher organization of representations, while the experiential level consists of the moment-to-moment ow of consciousness. He argues that for the sake of theoretical clarity these levels should be differentiated in discussions of self. He then describes the Buddhist psychology of self and tries to show how this perspective can enrich psychoanalytic understanding of the experiential self and of narcissism, which in Buddhist language would be described as clinging to (seeking or avoiding) images of self that arise in the mind. Last, he describes a model of therapeutic development using different levels of self and the interrelationship between them, showing how psychoanalytic psychotherapy and Buddhist insight meditation emphasize different levels of self using complementary rather than mutually exclusive methods.