Tag Archives: constructivism

Science Monday: The end of Psychopathology


No, we haven’t found the cure for psychological problems. We’ve just come to the end of the course today. We’ll be looking at the problem of Borderline Personality Disorder. In order to understand personality disorders, we need to have an adequate understanding of both biblical anthropology (who does God say we are) AND the self (how we experience ourself and the world and so develop a consistent identity). Given that we live in a fallen world where deception rules the day, it is helpful to see how we tend to develop our self identity.  One such theory is called Constructivist Self-Development Theory. In short, the authors suggest the self is made up of

1. Frame of Reference: (one’s identity, worldview, beliefs, etc.)
2. Self-capacity: (inner capabilities that allow the individual to maintain a consistent coherent sense of self and to manage emotions)
3. Ego resources: (ability to conceive consequences, set boundaries, and self protect–ability to develop interpersonal strategies)
4. Sense of safety: (self-perception, trust, control, and connection to others)

This theory (and I haven’t done justice to it in this small space) suggests that these 4 areas work to help people form cognitive schemas that enable them to interpret events and memories from past events).

I like the theory’s attempt to address matters of safety and internal resources. Some people seem to have an innate sense of organization, boundaries, and ability to manage emotions. Others struggle more. In both cases, we develop a coherent sense of self as we construct our sense of ourselves in the world. Those who grow up in more chaotic and destructive environments have a much tougher time getting a bead on themselves and others. The world just doesn’t make as much sense.

The problem is what is not said or explored. Frame of reference, in my opinion, comes not only from experiences but also from God himself (Romans 1). We construct our perceptions of self but not in a vacuum.

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