Kohut's selfobject needs: Mirroring, idealization and twinship

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Professional Doctor of Psychology (Clinical)


School of Psychology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Sciences

First Supervisor

Dr Eyal Gringart

Second Supervisor

Dr Chris Theunissen


The concept of the self remains central to both psychological theory and research. The current study focuses on Kohut‘s self psychology conceptualisation of the self. Kohut (1971, 1977, 1984) developed the theory of self psychology through clinical observations of his patients. Kohut proposed that the developmental selfobject needs of mirroring, idealisation and twinship are crucial to the development of the self. Although there is some empirical support for self psychology, existing studies are limited. Most of the previous studies have not focused on clinical populations or explored selfobject needs. The current study aimed to address the gap in the literature, employing a mixed methodology approach. Quantitative data were collected using the Selfobject Needs Inventory (SONI), Self Psychology Questionnaire (SPQ) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Qualitative data were collected in the form of in depth interviews. Stage one of the current study explored the reliability and validity of the Selfobject Needs Inventory (SONI) and the Self Psychology Questionnaire (SPQ), which are both measures of selfobject needs. Stage two explored selfobject needs with a clinical sample of patients diagnosed with a mood disorder. The HADS was used to identify participants for inclusion in stage two. The results of stage one provided incremental support for the reliability and validity of the SONI and the SPQ. The results of stage two provided support for Kohut‘s theory of selfobject needs and the impact of interpersonal relationships on the development of the self. Overall, the current study provided support for the SONI and SPQ as measures of selfobject needs and Kohut‘s theory regarding the development of interpersonal and mental health difficulties when selfobject needs are not adequately met.

LCSH Subject Headings

Edith Cowan University. Faculty of Computing, Health and Science -- Dissertations

Self psychology


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