Thursday, 13 June 2013

"Closet-narcissistic" mum - abandonment

Poor self-image, unrealistic self-image, broken or un-formed self-image, dependent on others' confirmation of oneself (one's idea of oneself) for any kind of continuity. Other-focussed. Compelled to mirror others. Fragmented. Have difficulty concentrating. Completely lost self. Mum lacks dimensions because she too was not met and held by mother's eyes. Her kids play the parts of her own drama, one idealised, another denigrated. Unable to feel connected to the world. There is no compensation! Just have to manage the frightening gaps in one's mind.

The abandoned child finds some way of soothing self-destructive feelings.
Wanting mum, but confronted by her loss, (s)he imagines being looked upon and loved and cherished.
The persistent imagining stifles real enagagement with life, real learning, real development. One fails to develop a realistic idea of how one appears to others. Perhaps one comes to feel that one's failures to be this or that for others is a tremendous let-down for them (as if their lives or work or goings-on are somehow dependent on me).

How does the idealised self really start, this idea of oneself who is recognised (in one's imaginings) as ideal? It can be there in a healthy way, as something I feel myself to be that is me, who can confront reality and take knocks and survive and grow. Or it can be a crippling fantasy which one spends one's whole life trying to preserve at the cost of denying reality.

There are accounts of the omnipotent phase of an infant's life, our lives, when there are no boundaries between self and world: for him mum comes when there is crying like his arm comes before his face. That's an important part of the answer.

Freud talks of "ego", "superego" and "id". Of course, we are able, through practise and help, to separate these things in ourselves. The power of self-reflection that can do this, as it were, stepping back from the self to regard it, is not "ego" then. As, for example, Andrew Bowie points out in his books on aesthetics and German romantic philosophy, there remains some self-consciousness that can step back from "ego", "id", and "superego", and twhich remains even when these three things (whatever they are) come back together. Kant called it the "synthetic unity of apperception", a spontaneous self-giving.

Little infants need the bond with mum, in order to achieve self. Mum smiles at me, she looks into me and finds me, and I become what she finds in me. I practise being recognised by her. But if one's spontaneity is not met with acknowledgement and a containing reponse from mum, and instead abandonment or simply blankness, then the fragile self is threatened. I think at that point the little self is lost, always trying to be what mum wants, to meet her need. "I" hate in me what mum does not love (that causes her to go away). I try to be what mum loves, and yet it leaves me empty and depressed. I am ashamed to assert my desires. Guilty to demand of others what I want.

Please read my previous post in this topic.

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