ArticlePDF Available

WORKING SOCIAL SELF AS PROTECTOR AGAINST PSYCHOTIC BREAKDOWN AND IN MIGRANT'S ADAPTATION

Authors:
  • NewPsy Psychoanalytic Institute

Abstract

The author suggests that so-called Social self, the one we present and usually experience as more or less genuine "I", is rooted in infantile false-self structure. It should be understood as a normal part of self-representation and self-perception as long as it protects and supports the more basic part of self-perception, described by Winnicott as a True self. The last one is rooted in un-/preconscious communication based on projective-introjective reciprocity. Normally in benign social encounter social feedback and achievement gained by Social self, strengthen the True self confirming the relevance of projective-introjective reciprocity. If however the reality-reading of Social-and True-selfs contradict instead of support each other's data, there remain no other choice but to give up either Social-self or the True one. The first choice means isolation and possibly depression, the other-psychosis, since the True-self is experienced as an immediate source of the very experience (the process of shape taking)-the
1
WORKING SOCIAL SELF AS PROTECTOR AGAINST
PSYCHOTIC BREAKDOWN
SUMMARY
The author suggests that so-called Social self, the one we
present and usually experience as more or less genuine "I", is rooted
in infantile false-self structure. It should be understood as a normal
part of self-representation and self-perception as long as it protects
and supports the more basic part of self-perception, described by
Winnicott as a True self. The last one is rooted in un-/preconscious
communication based on projective-introjective reciprocity. Normally
in benign social encounter social feedback and achievement gained by
Social self, strengthen the True self confirming the relevance of
projective-introjective reciprocity. If however the reality-reading of
Social- and True-selfs contradict instead of support each other’s data,
there remain no other choice but to give up either Social-self or the
True one. The first choice means isolation and possibly depression, the
other – psychosis, since the True-self is experienced as an immediate
source of the very experience (the process of shape taking) – the
2
interplay of perception and desire. The attention is drawn to the fact
that similar intrapsychic situation occurs in a process of cultural
adaptation of emigrants.
When my love swears that she is made of truth
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unlearned in the world’s false subtlies.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue:
On both sides thus is simple truth suppress’d.
But wherfore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love loves not to have years told:
Therefore I lie with her and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
William Shakespeare,
sonnet CXXXVIII
In this paper I am going to reflect upon some features of
psychosis-prone personality organization. The proneness to psychosis
lies to my mind in three main areas: clinging to symbiotic mode of
experience and existence, autistic personality organization and neglect
or attack on consciousness and thinking. All three are strongly causally
interconnected. Clinging to symbiotic experience supposes that
dependency is the normal state of affairs, the outside world has not be
conquered by personal endeavor and skills and conscious (that is
impartial) processing is not at all necessary. Accordingly as long as the
person can maintain in himself symbiotic emotional experience, he
3
doesn’t depend on the external world, in a way is in a superior position
to it. That is the essence of autistic core. By the same token such state
of affairs presuppose that consciousness, logical and causal thinking
are unnecessary things too since in symbiotic state the main
informational exchange happens on the preverbal level and actually
(what is essential) performs not as an information but as a stimulus for
action: the baby’s cry doesn’t only inform the mother, it causes some
changes in her brain independently on conscious reading, molds her
experience and prompts her to pacify the baby. That is on symbiotic
level things are supposed to happen in the mode of projective-
introjective reciprocity: the experience of hunger by the baby whether
related in his mind with the image of the mother or not is revealed by
his cry and is projected inasmuch as the mother is sensitive to his cry
and responds to it. Consciousness and secondary processing are totally
omitted in this exchange, they are unnecessary.
but as a direct stimulus to I shall start not with the theory but with
shared experience of many, who have tried to treat schizophrenic
patient psychotherapeutically. All agree that own sincerity is essential
and any kind of lie immediately damages the contact. Let us start with
a short dialog with the young man in his late twenties, who had
developed a short and bypassing psychotic symptoms in the very
beginning of psychoanalytic treatment. This is the third session after
I’ve asked him to move into an armchair.
Pt.: Do you know what has been wrong with me since childhood? I
got too much excited about everything. Whenever I found myself
interested in something, I got so exited with it that I forgot everything
around. So I has made a fool of myself and others have laughed at me.
(He had told me about some of these episodes, so I could imagine what
he is talking about).
Th.: Do you mean that you has often forgotten how you look in the
eyes of the others?
Pt.: Precisely. I couldn’t remain excited by something and watch
myself at the same time.
4
Th.: You forget yourself.
Pt.: And then I do crazy things until somebody stops me.
Th.: But then it’s too late and you are ashamed.
Pt.: It would be easier for me to talk, if you’d let me lie on the couch
as in the beginning.
Th.: Then you could forget my presence and yourself once again.
Pt.: Isn’t that the point of your treatment? You said that I am supposed
to say freely, whatever comes to my mind.
Th.: No that’s not the point. I think I didn’t stress it enough in the
beginning. The point is that you should follow and observe your
thoughts and share them with me.
Pt.: Thoughts don’t come when I am sitting here.
Th.: Is it possible, that you are already ashamed to think them, since
when you see me, you can’t forget that I am watching you.
Pt.: My father has scolded me for whatever I did.
***
A 32-years-old woman after having her third psychotic
breakdown (official diagnosis schizophrenia) was admitted to the
outpatient day-clinic from a closed department.
Pt.: I would like to know my diagnosis.
Th.: It’s schizophrenia this time.
Pt.: (smiling and sweating) I see.
Th.: What do you see?
Pt.: It’s schizophrenia.
Th.: In case you are afraid to hear more, it’s not at all a hopeless
disease.
Pt.: I know. I should use my medicines and try to study.
Th.: Medicines will help of course, but first of all you must be
determined to understand yourself, your relationships with others and
how they affect your mind.
Pt.: (smile turns to grimace, sweat runs her face, silent).
Th.: I think you are scared.
Pt.: No I am not. How should I act in such a situation?
***
5
A 35-yer-old woman diagnosed schizophrenia. She had
spent the last 12 years in the closed ward. After 1 year and 2 months of
treatment she left the hospital for an outpatient residential home along
with her boyfriend. She suffocated on a piece of pancake, while her
boyfriend was buying milk for her in a grocery store nearby. I looked
at my notes and found this dialog, which took place some 5 moths
before.
Pt.: Nice shirt isn’t it?
Th.: Yes, it suits you indeed.
Pt.: Really? Thank you. My sister brought it. You have nice shoes too.
(Laughing) Let’s fuck on this couch.
Th.: No.
Pt.: (still laughing) You don’t want to fuck, do you.
Th.: No, I don’t.
Pt.: (frowning and leaning forward) You look so tired, what have
happened to you. You look old. These wrinkles on your forehead, and
eyes. (Leaning back) There’s evil, you frighten me.
Th.: Do I ?
Pt.: Yes. You look terrible. (Thoughtfully) You are a devil.
Th.: It was a happy world before I refused to have sex with you.
Pt.: (still thoughtfully) Yes, you are a devil.
Th.: You mean that I’ve stirred up your desire, when I praised your
shirt. I seduced you, then abandoned you.
Pt.: (after a moment of hesitation with an adequate emotional
expression) Leo, do you understand where you persuade me?
Th.: (not sure about the shift) What do you mean ‘persuade’?
Pt.: (irritated) I mean, do you know what do you want out of me at
all ?
Th.: (embarrassed) Well, I think I would like you to live, perhaps to
love, to be with people…
Pt.: Ye, ye… (looking through the window) Nice weather… If I allow
myself to hope again, I’ll wish everything so strongly. I’ll swallow
everything, I’ll suffocate. I have tried once and you know how it ended
(she meant, that in her late adolescence she fell in love, was rejected,
developed psychosis and jumped from the seventh flour).
6
Th.: Then you were alone, now you have me and the staff.
Pt.: (nodding both approvingly and ironically). Ye, Ye…
She died during my summer vacation. According to the
staff’s record she was very hopeful last month. This vignette points to
the very short period almost in any schizophrenic-patient treatment,
when the patient on some level of his/her consciousness chooses
between craziness and health. At the moment we spoke I didn’t realize
what the burden of conscious control means to the people like she.
Now I read her words as “now I can sometimes enjoy nice weather, is
it worth to undertake the enterprise he offers?”
***
A 27-years-old man was diagnosed with schizophrenia after
having his second psychotic episode. Inhibited, avoiding eye-contact,
stumbling. This is an excerpt from the first interview.
Th.: It looks like it’s difficult for you to speak with me.
Pt.: It’s not about you.
Th.: You mean the same happens with others.
Pt.: Yes (short glance).
Th.: What’s so difficult about being with people?
Pt.: I feel the way they do.
Th.: You identify with them.
Pt.: Exactly (another longer glance)…
Few minutes later, about the difficulties in his family.
Th.: Can you tell me what is the most difficult situation?
Pt.: (Silence, looking straight before).
Th.: It looks that you are afraid even to think about it.
Pt.: When my mother and sister quarrel.
Th.: So?
Pt.: (desperate look as if I should understand).
Th.: Is it so, that when they quarrel you feel like both of them and you
can’t choose the side?
Pt.: (nods sadly with soft thoughtful expression) I choose mom’s but I
hate that.
***
I hope I have succeeded in conveying at least some of the
7
feeling I usually get when reaching the psychotic person and I believe
these feelings are familiar to you as well. It is a mixture of shame as if
I’d suddenly met a naked person, astonishment (how somebody can be
so sincere), fear and excitement as if I would keep in soapy hands a
piece of wonderful Chinese porcelain.
I believe this very feeling provides us with some answer to
the question of what is central in psychosis-prone personality. For it
suggests that we, non-psychosis-prone people feel ourselves strong
and solid if compared with psychotics. What is this armor of ours? To
my mind it is our ability and readiness to lie, without having the
feeling that we are lying. When we look at and listen to somebody let’s
say presenting a paper in a big audience and looking sincere and
friendly, we know that this is another sort of friendliness and openness
the same person will display with his friends the same afternoon. Yet
this knowledge doesn’t make the speaker a liar neither in the eyes of
public nor in his own. His friends too know perfectly well that he will
be somewhat different with his family, yet they do not consider him a
liar either. And so on. As if we all would have made a silent agreement
about the permitted, situation-bind alterations in our personality-
presentations. The words “as if” can be omitted because actually it is
the agreement, the cultural one.
CONSCIOUSNESS, UNCONSCIOUSNESS AND THE FEELING
OF FALSE
When I have visited the USA for the first time in 1988 I was
surprised to find that the American agreement differs noticeably from
the Lithuanian one, yet people here seem to feel themselves quite
comfortable with it. The Finish agreement is again of a very different
nature. The more or less healthy person, who have been raised in a one
kind of expression-culture and enters the different one, suffers either
from repeating shame or from feeling of the dishonesty of the world or
both. His reality-testing (in human relationships) repeatedly betrays
him. He experiences a strange feeling, which under closer examination
8
turns to be a mixture of derealization and depersonalization. Such a
person asks him-/herself:
- how much people mean what they express,
how much they themselves are aware of what they hide and expect
me to be aware of it, and
how they feel about themselves.
This healthy person realizes that in a strange expression-culture he is
unable to control people by projection. By the same token he looses
also the narcissistic/symbiotic tie with these people and can’t identify
with them anymore. It is the point when the other becomes “the
stranger”, beyond the reach of projective-introjective dynamics, in a
way non-existent to it, not real. The person who reaches this point
experiences paranoid anxiety, which he usually overcomes employing
aggression and depreciation of others. He experiences that the people
around are ”all acting”, they are “false, paper-people” (in my patients’
words). What such a person discovers next is that he can survive
among these false people if he relies more on his conscious calculation
and judgment. However when he does this, he feels himself false too
and longs for lost projective-introjective reciprocity (actually he
suffers from anaclitic depression). Sooner or later such person finds
people with whom he can rebuild this reciprocity. This brings back the
feeling of omnipotence and enables narcissistic identification, which in
turn strengthens his sense of self-identity. He feels closeness and
belonging. The people he finds usually belong to the same or close
expression-culture.
I was able to understand the above described psychodynamic
since my personal experience in a strange expression-culture happened
to coincide with my psychoanalytic training. This understanding later
were many times confirmed and broadened by clinical experience
while consulting and treating immigrants. However they were my
psychotic patients, who turned my attention to the similarity of
dynamic mechanisms in normal cultural adaptation and psychosis.
By stressing the role of consciousness in the development of
psychotic illness I do not diminish the basic failure of psychosis-prone
person to complete self-object differentiation. This failure reveals itself
9
in dependence on so-called symbiotic experience. To put it more
precisely psychosis-prone person is unable to incorporate and maintain
without external support the benign projective-introjective reciprocity.
In his later life such a person abuses the transitional phenomena. He
tries to make people into transitional objects as we healthy people do,
but fails to discover the object. To use Winnicotts expression, he fails
to solve the paradox, the object isn’t there to be discovered. I do not
enter this theme, because there is a vast amount of psychoanalytic
literature devoted to it and it is a common agreement that psychotic
pathology is rooted in dyadic relationships. Much less attention has
been paid to conscious, preconscious and cultural factors. This paper is
an attempt to show that the psychosis-prone person sometimes can
avoid psychotic states if he learns to use his conscious mechanisms for
appropriate false-self building.
FALSE SELF
Winnicott used the concept of false self in pejorative sense and until
now it enjoys the same bad reputation. Colleagues sometimes refer the
patient with diagnosis “false self problem”. When meeting such patient
I usually understand what they mean, namely that during our short
encounter I very soon start to feel this patient being false. However my
definition of the whole situation differs – I feel him being false
because he doesn't convince me that what he displays is really what he
feels and thinks. At the same time I am aware of the fact that what I
display myself is far from being all I think and feel too. In fact we both
lie but hopefully I am a better liar. This insufficient skill to lie
convincingly enough can become a deep problem for psychosis-prone
people. In our clinical work it is worth to approach such personality
not as equipped with false self which should be removed in the process
of treatment but on the contrary as lacking well functioning ego-
syntonic false self structure. Let us consider few observations.
***
From an analysis of a patient with borderline pathology:
“I can tell you what has saved me from real craziness. Once
10
when I was 4, 5 or maybe 6 I laid in a bath, playing with my toys and
was very angry with my mother. I don’t remember her fault now but I
remember that I scolded her in my mind carefully selecting the most
ugly words I knew then. Then she suddenly entered the bathroom and
was kind to me and I felt that I loved her and felt guilty. That very first
moment I was stirred up but soon realized that she didn’t notice
anything. Then while smiling and speaking to her I repeated in my
mind those ugly words again and again still feeling love. It was an
amazing discovery.”
***
From an analysis of neurotic patient with a prominent
narcissistic pathology:
Pt.: It comes to my mind now, how shocked I was when once on our
way back from some long holidays spent in a friends family’ cottage
my parents started to criticize these friends and found many faults in
their behavior, thinking, in their children and everything. At first I
couldn’t believe my ears. I got a terrible feeling: what is the truth, Who
are my parents, how could they?
Th.: Could what?
Pt.: How could they be there friendly and smiling, while thinking such
terrible thoughts? Later I used to practice it with my brother using
them as objects…”
***
I think these examples reflect well enough what I mean.
Both patients are describing their discovery of the same conscious
function named suppression. Both these discoveries considerably
promoted drive fusion. The first one had found it in himself, the other
in his parents. The child learns that thoughts can be thought but still
successfully hidden from others. He discovers the dishonesty of the
adult world but at the same time quite a new possibility to manage
ambivalence by conscious calculation and will. Sooner or later, in one
way or another he realizes that adults approve and use this function as
11
well. He also learns that dishonesty toward others helps him to be
honest to himself, spares him a lot of trouble in dealing with evil and
helps to keep his own integrity. No doubt he has to be assisted in his
new-skill practicing. Sometimes he finds such assistance in wise
enough adults but mostly in siblings and yard-friends.
***
The dialog between 6-years-old boy and his 4,5-years-old
sister:
He: Mom is stupid.
She: (starts to cry)
He: (a bit anxious) Stop crying, we won’t tell her.
She: (still crying)
He (with superiority): well, well, she is not stupid.
She: (stops crying)
***
You see what I mean: not telling mom doesn’t yet help her,
but helps him already.
The dynamic aim of this newly acquired conscious function is not to
make it possible for a little man to bear and express his negative
wishes and feelings but to ”evacuate” them into his own
consciousness. Once cathected by consciousness they can be bound in
thought-processes, partly deprived of their Id-cathexis and easier
counter-cathected. They can be contained and processed safely as
estranged, frizzed parts of secondary-process instead of remaining the
dangerous aspect of experiential self.
***
A 5-6-years-old girl tries to open the abdomen of a caterpillar with a
stick. Mother comes.
M.: What are you doing here?
G.: I want to look inside.
M.: (with disgust and fear) O, stop doing this, it’s cruel!
G.: (silently proceeds).
M.: (squats and turns the girl toward herself) Look, it’s a little one.
She got herself lost and now is looking for her mommy. Mommy’s
waiting for her. You don’t want her mommy to cry, do you?
12
G.: (during mothers speech she looked at the insect on the ground with
a somewhat doubtful expression. Then suddenly and decisively with
an obviously exaggerated and artificial tenderness) Hurry up, little
one, your mother’s waiting for you, hurry up. (Pushes the caterpillar
forward rather brutally with the same stick). Mother drags her away
and she pays the caterpillar the last glance of cool interest and
disappointment.
***
Thus de- and counter-catected wishes are made partially
estranged, changed and lose their self-syntonic genuiness (become
“false”). In such a shape they less threaten the true love, which can
safely exist and maintain real, alive and never-spelled dyadic universe
– the core of our sense of self-identity.
Not for long. The child enters the oedipal stage and his
newly acquired, non-attuned conscious tool proves to be insufficient in
dealing with yet unknown pressure of sexual desire, which shakes and
floods his mind with rationally unexplainable thoughts, fantasies and
impulses of erotic, phallic and violent nature. I believe that at this
point newborn conscious suppression comes to a crucial trial with at
least two possible outcomes:
either it will split somewhere in the pre-consciousness and give
raise to both – properly operating unconscious repression and ego-
dystonic conscious suppression, or
it will remain undifferentiated and in the future will not be able to
perform effectively either the function of suppression or that of
repression proper.
Both suppression and repression will be given another chance to be
practiced and develop during latency and adolescence. The chance
however is rather weak. Some 10 – 20 years later, when we diagnose
schizophrenic illness, we classify the symptoms along these two lines.
Suppression failure reveals itself in the lack of capacity to concentrate
and keep the continuity of conscious thought, cognitive deficit being
the outcome. Repression failure opens the gate for positive symptoms
– primary process objects flow into the consciousness.
The described above incapacity will not be obvious for some time.
13
Caregivers are mostly alarmed when they witness the incapability of
child’s Ego to execute will and proper impulse-control. Usually they
do not to notice the inflexibility and brutality of new-built Superego or
that Superego is rooted in Id more deeply than in Ego. After latency
begins they rarely have the opportunity to observe that the child uses
sexuality for either gratification or defense in dealing with pre-oedipal
wishes. Caregivers have “a very good child”. Schoolmates however
take full advantage of his/her loneliness (Superego doesn’t accompany
Ego) and undefended sensitivity (false self doesn’t protect the true
one). Schoolmates bully him.
If conscious suppression however survives the oedipal
earthquake it continues to develop and remarkably contributes to the
development of false self. This is the function, which mind practices
most during latency. Among many other things child learns in his
school years how to hide his resentment, disappointment, joy, desire,
actually, all aspects of his soul, which the other can use selfishly and
hurt in return. This is the stage, when caregivers are openly concerned
about child's false self and often try to support and promote its
development. “Don’t show her that you like her so much”, “don’t
show him that you are afraid”, “play with her, though you don’t like
her” – similar advises child hears quite often in his early school years.
It is also called socialization. Socialization means that you must learn
how to deal with people, that they wouldn’t be able to exploit your
psycho-dynamics for their own narcissistic purposes.
At this stage adults rarely put it like “do all this but remain yourself”.
They take for granted that the child can preserve his sense of self-
identity. Normally he can. He puts a bit of himself into his roles but
never doubts which part is real and true. In adolescence however the
situation changes noticeably. Adults advise sometimes the same young
man or woman “be yourself, you are best just as you are”. But he,
pressed by need to disclose his ”true” sexual identity (pregenital
aspects of it), often finds it difficult to follow this advice. Instead he
sometimes puts more and more of himself into his roles, identifies with
them and suppresses the memory of how they were built up and the
knowledge that there is some other person inside. Perhaps that is the
14
outcome which some professionals refer to as a false-self-problem. If
however in question is the adolescent who is to become schizophrenic
he is unable to suppress his feelings flexibly, which means to cathect
from narcissistic sources consciously chosen part of his ambivalence.
This is an important psychodynamic mechanism, which
marks the border of psychosis and I shall try to put it as clear as I can.
Normally one expects to be hurt if he discloses himself.
Then he consciously chooses to hide his real feelings and to display
their false opposite counterpart. This strategy sometimes works and his
self-esteem raises, he feels better. This permits him to identify himself
with this acted counterpart, to cathect it from narcissistic source. This
in turn helps him to examine this counterpart consciously and to notice
that the displayed false feeling wasn’t all false. Some of it was there all
the time though overshadowed by anxiety and anger. At last he finds
that he doesn’t need to stress these “good” feelings, he can just listen
to them and express them as they are. This is a case, when he himself
as well as the other whom he encounters experience the whole display
as sincere, not false.
It is different with psychosis-prone people. In the beginning
such person as much as the healthy one expects to be hurt and chooses
to hide his anxiety behind false benign counterpart. However due to
poorly working suppression / repression function his ”bad self”
remains inadequately isolated and thus experientially present. It
constantly demands attention and conscious control and spoils the
pleasure of social intercourse. We could say that such a person is
unable to fool himself even for a moment and indulge in belief that
others only like him and he only likes others. This ever present “bad
part” forbids mutual identification and handicaps the formation of the
sense of “we”. This in turn threatens the very feeling of symbiotic
omnipotence – the true emotional core of self-identity. Social
intercourse becomes a torture of misery, loneliness and insulting pain.
If the psychosis prone person finds no other way out but keeping
acting and tries even harder to stick to his role and at to get rid of this
“bad part”, the dangerous shift happens. For to get rid means to deny
conscious access – not to pay attention, not to think not to experience.
15
However the fate of the “bad counterpart” deprived of access to
consciousness is to be externalized – recognized outside the
representation of self. This projected “bad part” once recognized in
any shape (voices, expressions, etc.) outside the experiential self, is
experienced as alive and true, in contrast to the “good part” spoiled by
necessity of conscious control. The intercourse with this part restores
the illusion of emotional control, the feeling of “we”, the projective-
introjective reciprocity, the manic omnipotence based on symbiosis, it
brings back safety and self-esteem. Bribed by all these gains and
ignoring the warning of associated feeling of uncunniness such person
chooses this relationship as a ground for his self-identity. In other
words he chooses psychosis and often for a long time this becomes the
last choice he makes by his conscious and reality-based will.
ON TREATMENT
It is a matter of separate paper how this approach can be
used technically. As clinician I and few of my colleagues were able to
use it both as a tool of understanding and an appropriate vehicle for
intervention – confrontation, clarification, interpretation, advice, etc.
This paper was first written as presentation and then I had no intention
at all to speak about treatment. Yet, as it often happens, when you are
closely thinking about something you see the subject everywhere. So
just before my departure when I was working on the last pages of
presentation, I met in the day-care department a 22–years-old man
approaching his second psychotic breakdown. Our conversation had
stroked me as an alive and sad illustration to the idea I was working
with so I included it into presentation. Now however I also know what
have happened next, since I have been treating this young man after
my return for half a year and have been able to follow his treatment
until now. The young man had never developed second psychosis, he
continues to use medicines, which he is planning to stop this year. He
entered psychoanalytic psychotherapy in 2000 and continues to see his
therapist once a week. He got an academic profession and last year has
been offered the permanent job. He is married, the first child had born
16
in may 2005. From time to time he writes me e-mails. Here’s the
excerpt from our dialog which took place in 1999:
Pt.: There’s a fire here! (pointing at his chest). The fire of truth!
D.: You mean, you are fed up with lies.
Pt.: (shouting) Yes, precisely!
D.: Fire burns if you don’t protect yourself.
Pt.: I can bear it, I can bear it! I don’t want to be false as other people
are!
D.: You didn’t find much truth in the hospital last time, just new
humiliation.
Pt.: (silent).
D.: You’ll be able to keep your fire if you take your medicine now and
learn how to handle your fire in psychotherapy.
Pt.: (still silent).
D.: Here’s the pill, take it now please.
THE NORMAL DEVELOPMENT OF FALSE SELF (schematic
timetable)
1. I suggest that our sense of self is rooted in so-called symbiotic
experience of soothing reciprocity and omnipotence.
2. The false self emerges when the mind learns that the object is real,
in a sense, cannot be controlled by projective measures. The caregiver
is not so well attuned and it is the child, who must do something in
order to maintain reciprocity. He starts to register how he affects the
caregiver. So to say he practices active feedback and this is the
beginning of descriptive consciousness. If the mother properly reacts
to his attempts and at the same time empathize with his suffering, he
will experience his own adaptation activity (the origin of his false self)
as alive and true.
3. After the anal stage and establishing the object constancy together
with the sense of self-identity, he learns that he can apply his
consciousness and memory not only for registration but also as safe
container for reciprocity destroying impulses – for suppression. All
successful false-self activity brings up the narcissistic satisfaction,
17
which partly replaces symbiotic omnipotence.
4. When successful, under the pressure of oedipal wishes this
development results in the emergence of repression proper and
suppression (the demarcation line being the border of consciousness).
5. Early latency: The hiding develops into active conscious displaying
of the opposite (cf. with reaction formation).
6. Late latency. This function being praised by narcissistic gratification
enables identification with the displayed.
7. Puberty. All skills are applied to manage genital sexuality and
related matters.
8. Late adolescence and adulthood. False self reduces its grasp.
Soothing reciprocity and self-esteem (both being the basis of self-
identity) are supported by appropriate love/hate relationships and need
less conscious control and special measures.
LITERATURE
Bion, W.R. (1955) The Develoopment of Schizophrenic thought.
Intenational Journal of Psychoanalysis, vol.37.
Freud, S. (1919) The 'Uncanny'. S.E. 17.
Winnicott, D.W. (1965) The Maturational Processes and the
Facilitating Environment. The Hogarth Press Ltd.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.