Representations in action: (Or: action models of development meet psychoanalytic conceptualizations of mental representations). Academic Article uri icon


  • Integrating psychoanalytic and action models of development affords a rich, detailed depiction of developmental psychopathology. Psychoanalytic models depict mental representations of self and others as unconsciously organizing and regulating affect, cognition, and behavior, in response to both maturational imperatives and drive related conflicts. Action models emphasize the active, reciprocal, and goal oriented nature of person-context exchanges. In linking the two perspectives, we propose that representations serve as the mechanisms through which individuals shape their development, personality, and well-being. This integrative perspective is illustrated using a clinical case of an adolescent female treated for an eating disorder.

publication date

  • January 1, 2004