How much of our identity or ‘self’ is truly representative of our own wants, needs, and goals in life and how much does it reflect the desires and priorities of someone else? Are we following our own destiny or are we unconsciously repeating the lives of our parents, living according to their values, ideals, and beliefs? In this thought-provoking book, noted clinical psychologist Robert Firestone and his co-authors explore the struggle that all of us face in striving to retain a sense of ourselves as unique individuals. The self is under siege from several sources: primarily pain and rejection in the developmental years, problems in relationships, detrimental societal forces, and existential realities that affect all people.

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An important addition to the area of personality development theory, The Self under Siege offers a new perspective on differentiation and the battle to separate ourselves from the chains of the past. It provides psychotherapists and other mental health professionals with the tools needed to help clients differentiate from the dysfunctional attitudes and toxic personality traits of their parents, other family members, and harmful societal influences that have unconsciously dominated their lives. This book will have a special appeal to clients and, in fact, to any person interested in his/her own personal development.
Through numerous case studies and personal stories from men and women who participated in a 35-year observational study, the authors illustrate how Voice Therapy, a cognitive/affective/behavioral methodology pioneered by Firestone, is used to illicit, identify, and challenge the destructive inner voice and to change aversive behaviors based on its prescriptions. The theory they describe integrates the psychodynamic and existential approaches underlying Voice Therapy and is enriched by research findings in the neurosciences, attachment research, and terror management theory (TMT).

Table of Contents

Introduction. A Developmental Perspective. The Voice. Voice Therapy. Relationships. Voice Therapy Applied to Couple Relationships. Family Dynamics that Affect Differentiation. The Mother-Daughter Bond [and Differentiation]. Death Anxiety and Differentiation. Cultural and Social Factors that Impact Differentiation. Leadership, Power, and Differentiation. The Differentiated Person.


“I noticed that I was pretty much divided when I read this book. One part of me, the psychologist, absorbed the fascinating discussions and wonderful examples of the powerful voice therapy method. The other part, my very essence, learned more about myself than I could ever have imagined. When both of these parts come together, my Self is strengthened and I know I will be a much more effective therapist.”

Violet Oaklander, PhD, author of Windows to Our Children: A Gestalt Therapy Approach with Children and Adolescents

Watch Co-Author, Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. Introduce the Concept of the Self Under Siege and Differentiation

“[These] authors are master therapists with a resonant message. Their voices are a beacon for eliciting humane personal excellence that frees enslaved psyches from fantasy ties that bind.”

Jeffrey K. Zeig, PhD, The Milton H. Erickson Foundation
“At a time when much psychological practice is narrow in its focus, The Self Under Siege offers a deep and broad perspective on what it means to be ‘fully human,’ and how to get there. Bravo to Firestone and his colleagues, who have been in this endeavor for the long haul.”

James Garbarino, PhD, Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology at Loyola University Chicago; author of Children and the Dark Side of Human Experience
“This is both a fascinating and ground breaking book for psychotherapists and patients with an interest in understanding destructive human behavior through the exploration of our ‘critical inner voices. [It] never ceases to surprise and inform, an invitation to savor the joys of relationships whilst giving us the strength to cope with separation and loss.”

Dr Felicity de Zulueta, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at the SLaM NHS Foundation Trust; Hon. Senior Lecturer in Traumatic Studies at KCL
“This rich book, full of important insights and moving examples, is recommended for therapists, for individuals, couples and families motivated to free themselves from the shackles imposed by the voices of the “enemy within”.

Ayala M. Pines, PhD, Dean and Professor, Faculty of Management Ben Gurion University Israel; author of Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose
The Self under Siege is a timely and compelling exposition of Robert Firestone and his colleagues’ cutting edge Separation Theory and Voice Therapy. A must read for clinicians, clinical researchers, academic psychologists, and anyone interested in better understanding human affairs.

Sheldon Solomon, PhD, Professor, Skidmore College; co-author of In the Wake of 9-11
“A meticulous and absorbing work of deep scholarship that describes our defenses against death anxiety and how they cripple the self and relationships. It supports its hypotheses with excellent end-notes, references, quotations, and patients’ poignant and inspiring testimonies”

J. Christopher A. Morrant, MB, BS, D(Obst) RCOG, DPM, FRCP(c)
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Author Biographies

Robert W. Firestone, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and author. He has been affiliated with the Glendon Association as its consulting theorist since its inception. His innovative ideas related to psychotherapy, couple and family relationships, suicide, parenting, and existential issues have been the inspiration and cornerstone of Glendon’s research and many publications.
Lisa Firestone, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and the Director of Research and Education at the Glendon Association. She also maintains a private practice in Santa Barbara, CA. Since 1987, she has been involved in clinical training and applied research in the areas of suicide and violence.
Joyce Catlett, MA, is an author and lecturer. Since 1979, she has collaborated with Robert Firestone on writing 12 books and numerous articles. She currently lectures and conducts continuing education workshops at universities and mental health facilities throughout the United States and Canada.