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HarryStack Sullivan

HarryStack Sullivan was a psychiatrist born in Norwich, New York in theunited states of America on 21 February 1892, and died in Parisaround 14 January 1949. Harry developed a psychiatry theory thatcentered on interpersonal relationships(Perry 100). He believed thata an individual’s personality is affected by their interactionswith other people , anxiety and other symptoms based on psychiatric.He also contributed to clinical psychiatry, and suggested thattherapy can be used to recover a patient affected by schizophrenics.He received his master’s degree around 1917. William Alanson Whiteand Adolf Meyer influenced his research in different ways. Harryalleged that through contact with an affected individual it waspossible to understand schizophrenia (Perry 145). He concluded thatschizophrenia was caused by disturbance in early childhoodinterpersonal relationships. Around 1929 he was able to apply histheory to a group of male schizophrenic. In addition, he introducedhis idea through lecturers at Yale University and elsewhere. Harryargued that a person’s identity is built on different perceptionsof people who surround him (Perry 205). He assisted in foundingdifferent institutions and did other works.

Harrytheory states that self begins to develop from late infancy throughseveral stages that accumulates to form a mature being. He emphasizesthat before a person can move to the next stage they should havesuccessfully completed the previous one (Leeming 98). However,circumstances caused by the environment can occur at any stage andmake the individual not to grow as required. This ends up formingjuveniles who grow up to be having issues as adults.

Thefirst stage of the interpersonal theory is infancy. This stage theindividual goes through it at home under the direction of an adultwho is authoritative figure(Leeming 109). Whereby, the child dependson both for physical survival and psychological development. Themother is the one who provides the basic design for the child to behuman. It is a means through which the mother is able to approve ordisapprove the required attitudes to the child. It is through themother’s reaction that the child develops anxiety. The child’sself develops as he tries to reduce or avoid anxiety to gain approvalfrom the concerned adult (Leeming 104).

Thesecond stage is childhood whereby the child starts to developlanguage. In this stage, the child develops the ability to speakclearly. Language is necessary for communication and therefore, ittakes several years to develop it. In addition, it is a contributingfactor to the person’s self-development. At this stage, the adulttrains and educates the child along the socially approved behaviorsrequired in the society by the child (Alexander 145). This makes thechild’s earlier tolerated behavior to be scrutinized to the desiredsocial behavior by the society. The third stage is the juvenile era,whereby the home limitations are open to correction by the societyand school. The school helps the child acquire the required subjectmatter and skills. In addition, it provides s the child with thebroader aspect of life. During this stage, the authoritative figuresin the child’s life at home, church, and school make the child tobe self-critical. It helps the child to learn ways of cooperating,competing, and compromising with others (Leeming 129).

Thefour stages is the adolescence. At the early adolescent stage, theability to love grows. The child desires relationship satisfactionand security from friends. This is not a sexually intimacy kind oflove stage but a stage whereby, the individual is able to talk freelyto another person. In the process, the individual may realize some ofthe unwanted behaviors from their previous life and overcome them.The adolescence stage the individual is expected to stop childlikebehavior.

Manypeople find it difficult to adjust to the required opportunities anddemand if they had shortages during the previous stages in theirlife. Early Adolescence stage is a period when the individualexperiences genital interests to the modeling of sexualconduct(Leeming 154). In this stage, the type of intimacy changesfrom the one experienced in the preadolescence stage to one of theopposite gender. The late adolescence stage involves theestablishment of a fully human interpersonal relations development asfar as opportunities allow. The lack of achieve this stage is a bigblow to the adolescent (Leeming 196).


Perry,Helen S. Psychiatristof America: The Life of Harry Stack Sullivan.Cambridge, Mass. u.a: Belknap Press, 1982. Print.

Leeming,David A. Encyclopediaof Psychology and Religion.Berlin: Springer US, 2008. Print.

Alexander,Irving E. Personology:Method and Content in Personality Assessment and Psychobiography.Durham [u.a.: Duke Univ. Pr, 1990. Print.