who is considered the father of interpersonal psychiatry, developed the Interpersonal
Theory of Nursing. This theory explained the role of interpersonal relationships and
social experiences in regards to the shaping of personalities, as well as the importance
of life events to psychopathology. Stack-Sullivan's theory states that the purpose of
behavior is for the patient to have his or her needs met through interpersonal interactions,
as well as decrease or avoid anxiety.
The Interpersonal Theory explains six developmental stages, which Stack-Sullivan calls
"epochs" or heuristic stages in development.
The first stage, called Infancy, occurs from birth to eighteen months. The main characteristic
of this stage is the gratification of needs. The second stage begins at eighteen months
and runs until six years of age. This stage, Childhood, is characterized by delayed
gratification. The Juvenile Era, which occurs between six and nine years of age, is
characterized by the formation of a peer group. The fourth stage, Preadolescence, is
between nine and twelve years of age. It is characterized by the development of relationships
within the same gender. Early adolescence occurs from twelve to fourteen years. During
this stage, the adolescent develops an identity. The sixth stage, late adolescence,
runs from fourteen to twenty-one years of age. This final stage in Stack-Sullivan's
model of nursing is characterized by the formation of lasting, intimate relationships.
The Interpersonal Theory explains three types of self: the good me, bad me, and not
me. The "good me" versus the "bad me" based on social appraisal and the anxiety that
results from negative feedback. The "not me" refers to the unknown, repressed component
of the self.
Stack-Sullivan's theory also explains anxiety, self-system, and self-esteem. It states
that security operations are those measures that the individual employs to reduce
anxiety and enhance security. A self-system is all of the security operations an
individual uses to defend against anxiety and ensure self-esteem.
This model of nursing provides the basis for interpersonal psychotherapy to specifically
address patients with depression and schizophrenia. The theory proposes that depression
most often develops in the context of adverse events, especially loss.