A Self, Attachment, Object Relations and Neurobiological Approach

The Masterson Approach

One of the early pioneers in the field of the “disorders of the self”, the late Professor James Masterson, integrated Developmental, Self and Object Relations theory with a unique clinical approach to the psychotherapy of the Disorders of Self. His empirical research, conducted on the borderline personality disorder long before empirical research was considered important, revealed how affects linked with insecure attachment are laid down nonconsciously in infancy and form an ‘abandonment depression’ which must be brought to the surface and worked through in psychotherapy. His psychotherapeutic approach focussed on teaching clinicians how to work with the client’s defences in order to facilitate the emergence of the client’s real self in the working through of the underlying depression.

Prior to his death in 2011, Dr Masterson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College at Cornell University. He was the founding father of The Society of Adolescent Psychiatry and past president of its New York Chapter. As an international authority on the personality disorders, Dr Masterson’s articles and papers have been published in leading journals in the USA and abroad and his books have been translated into several different languages. Along with Ralph Klein MD, who was at one-time Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the Institute for Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, and Clinical Director of the Masterson Group for many years, the Masterson-Klein body of work had a profound influence on a generation of clinicians and researchers, including Kent Hoffman and Bert Powell who went on to develop the award winning Circle of Security.