Dr. Masterson pioneered the developmental self and object relations approach (DSOR) to the psychotherapy of the Personality Disorders mainly through clinical research. He is one of the first clinicians to conduct empirical research on the borderline personality disorder more than three decades ago,long before empirical research was considered important. Dr Masterson was also the founding father of The Society of Adolescent Psychiatry and past president of its New York Chapter. The body of Dr. Masterson’s work is represented in the books he has written, many of which have been translated into several languages, including early work in the field of the real self, which represents a breakthrough in treatment of the borderline and narcissistic disorders.
His last book , “The Personality Disorders Through the Lense of Attachment Theory and Neurobiology Development of the Self,” just published by Zeig, Tucker, Theisen, is a choice of the Behavioral Science Book Service (see Club review at http://www.behavioralsciencebooks.com).His books are required reading in courses throughout the country. As an international authority on The Personality Disorders, Dr Masterson’s articles and papers have been published in leading journals in this country and abroad and his books have been translated into several different languages. Dr. Masterson maintained a private practice and offered supervision to various clinicians for over three decades. He was Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University.
Introduction to the International Masterson Institute
It has been more than a year since the sad passing of Dr. James Masterson, founder, in 1986, of what used simply to be designated The Masterson Institute. But work continues, as those of us of who are part of the Masterson Group continue to follow along the path begun more than half a century ago, with Masterson’s long, adventurous exploration into what had, up till the late 1960’s, been the Dark Continent of psychoanalysis; namely, the complex but strangely compelling territory comprising theoretic and therapeutic work with individuals suffering from personality disorders.
A focus on internalized object relations, now perhaps more commonly known as attachment patterns, remains a hallmark of the developmental self and object relations foundations of the Masterson Approach, which incorporates precepts set forth by Margaret Mahler, as well as those drawn from later neurobiologic and developmental theorists such as Allan Schore, Daniel Siegel and Daniel Stern, whose work both explicates and validates Masterson’s notions of the ways in which nature, nurture and fate conspire to create embedded modes of dealing with love and work.
Initially the three-year training programs of the Masterson Institute were situated in fixed locations in New York and San Francisco, but with changes in technology, we of the East Coast Masterson Institute decided to expand our horizons from Masterson’s office on Sutton Place to any area of the world that could be accessed by online video conferencing. In the five years that our online training program has existed, we have worked with and trained professionals in South Africa, Australia, Turkey, Canada, England, and Greece as well as in various locations in the US. In the process, we have not only exchanged information, but also, happily, established meaningful friendships and enduring collegial collaborations.
In recognition, then, of our ever-widening reach, we changed our name from the Masterson Institute to the International Masterson Institute. But we have never changed our mission. Dr. Masterson found a key to unlock the mysteries of the personality disorders, and from the depths of his understanding, he was able to develop therapeutic techniques (akin, perhaps, to therapeutic algorithms) designed to resonate with the specific dynamics governing Borderline, Narcissistic and Schizoid disorders. Over the years, those of us trained in the Approach have found that using it leads to positive outcomes, lending clarity and specificity to what can be difficult and confusing work, and most of us have at one time or another thanked our lucky stars for having access to such useful theoretic and therapeutic tools.
Finally, and interestingly, judging from the feedback we have received from our international trainees and colleagues, our method of treating personality disorders seems (at least so far) to have resulted in equally positive outcomes across many diverse cultures. This fact, perhaps, demonstrating the truth of Masterson’s observation that use of the Approach not only proves beneficial to the patient, but also to the therapist, in that it “widens and deepens the practitioner’s area of observation and reflection, immersing one still deeper in the clinical endeavor, and equipping one to explore these complex, subterranean themes with confidence and optimism”.
Judith Pearson, Ph.D.
Director, East Coast and
The International Masterson Institute