Thursday, November 10th, 2022, 8:00pm-9:30pm

David Witten, LCSW


“The Defensive Self-Ideal:Learning from Brandchaft’s Legacy”

Shelley Doctors, Ph.D

1.5 Continuing Education Credits for Social Workers & LMHC’s*

This presentation will focus on the theoretical construct of the defensive self-ideal, first introduced by Stolorow, Brandchaft, and Atwood in 1987. A brief historical account will be sketched in order to understand the context in which this term emerged as an early response to the prevailing notions of conflict and the superego. An argument will be made that a major reason this term has garnered so little attention is that Brandchaft never used the defensive self-ideal in his individual writings, despite the phenomenon addressed being central to his later work on systems of pathological accommodation. However, it will be shown that it is only with an appreciation for Brandchaft’s later work that gives life both theoretically and clinically to this seemingly lost construct. Most specifically, the presentation will outline how viewing the defensive self-ideal as an affective sequence provides a theoretical and clinical bridge. The implication being that there is a procedural “structure” that can be transformed experientially, while understood in terms of broader developmental theories. A clinical case will be used not only to demonstrate the utility of the defensive self-ideal, but with a special emphasis on how it aided the treatment in being able to more clearly delineate the multilayered shame-guilt dynamics.


Virtual via Zoom
(Meeting link will be e-mailed to registered participants on the day of the event)


David Witten is a graduate of the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity and is in private practice in New York City. He has a Master in Social Work from NYU and a Bachelor degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. David was a recipient of the IAPSP Early Career Professional Scholarship Program.

Dr. Shelley Doctors is a clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst, faculty member and Supervising Analyst at the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity, the National Institute for the Psychotherapies, and at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Washington, D.C. She is immediate past President of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Previously, she served as Secretary of the International Society for Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology for 12 years. Her more than 40 book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles focus on self psychology, intersubjectivity, and adolescence. Additionally, she has lectured nationally and internationally on over 180 occasions. Along with Bernard Brandchaft and Dorienne Sorter, she co-wrote and co-edited Toward an Emancipatory Psychoanalysis: Brandchaft’s Intersubjective Vision, published in June 2010 by Routledge Press.

*Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity (IPSS) is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work and for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0175 and for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0097