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2005_ Confusion And Introjection

2005_ Confusion And Introjection

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ConfusionandIntrojection:AModelforUnderstandingtheDefensiveStructuresoftheParentandChildEgoStates
HeatherFowlie
AbstractThisarticlediscussestheinterrelatedpro-cessesofconfusionandintrojection,whichtakeplaceintbeChildandParentegostatesrespectively.DrawingonBritishobjectrela-tionstheory,theauthorexploresthedevel-opmentoftheParentandChildegoslatesbasedontheoriginaImodelofstructuralegostates(Berne,1961).Viewingbothaspalho-logicalstructures,sheexaminesthekindofexperiencesthatactascatalystsfortheirde-velopmentandthedefensesthatareadoptedaspartofthisprocess.Amodelfordecon-fusionandarelationalmethodologyforworkwiththesedefensesissuggested.The
term
"confused
child"
evokesthepictureofashockedandbewildered
Iittle
childwhoishyingtomakesenseofandcome
10
termswithsomethingheorshedoesnotunderstand.Eversince
I
firstheardthe
term,
I
havewondered.whatisitthatissoconfusingtothechild?Howdoesthechildrespondtotheconfusionthatheorshefeels?Whydoesthechildrespondtotheconfusionasheorshedoes?Thetenn"introjection"goessomewayinexplaininghowthechildbecomesconfused.Erskine(1994fl997b)definesintrojectionas
"an
unawareidentificationwiththebeliefs.feelings.motivations.behaviors,anddefensesoftheother"(p.53).Butwhatisitthatthechildtakesin?Whatpromptshimorhertotakeintotheselfsomethingthateffect
i
velybelongstoanother?Whydocsheorsheidentitywiththisadoptedpart?InthisarticleIaddressthesequestionsandproposethatarelationalmethodologyisthemostappropriatewaytoworkwiththedefenseofin-trojection.DrawingonBerne'
s(
1961)originalmodelofstructuralegostates,inwhichhede-scribedtheChildegostateas..thecollectionof
/92
fixatedegostates"andtheParentegostaleas"thecollectionofintrojectedegostalesfromotherpeople"
(p,
76).
I
refer
to
theconceptoftheintegratingAdultasfirstpresentedbyGobes(ascitedinNovey.Porter-Steele,Gobes,
&
Massey.1993).Giventhatbabiesare
born
bothwantingandneedingto
be
inrelationshipwithothers(Bowlby,
197911992;
Erskine.198911997a:Fairbairn,1952:
Guntrip,
1968/1992:Stem.
!
985).
I
suggestthatthe
Child
andParentegostatesdevelopasadirect.defensiveconsequenceofre!ationshipfailureandthattheindividualhasbeenunabletointegratetheresultingexperienceandfeelingsintotheAdult.TheDevelopmentofDefensiveEgoStructuresBerne
(J
961)describedtheAdultegostateas..thenew-each-momentpare
(p.
76).Theoriginalegostatemode!proposedbyBernehasbeenfurtherexpandedbyErskine(1988.1991.1989/1997a,2003).SummersandTudor(2000).andTudor(2003).Tudor(2003),buildingonGobes's
{I
990)work,illustratesegostatede-velopmentintheintegratingAdultmodelasshowninFigure
I.
1
2
5
3
4
Figure1EgoStateDevelopmentintheIntegratingAdultModel
(from
Tudor,
2003.p.221)
TransactionalAnalysisJailmal
 
InFigure
J.
numberIrelatestotheindividualatconception.number2totheindividualinutero,number3totheindividualatbirth.num-ber4tothepersonatanyage,andnumber5totheindividualattheidealizedendoftherapy.Thismode!ofegostatessuggeststhatwearebornAdultandviewsthisegostateasappro-priate,agespecifie.integrating.andresponsivetothehereandnow;italsosupposesthattheChildandParentegostates,whichcanbede-finedrespectivelybytheirarchaicandintro-jeerednature,arebydefinitionpathological.ThiscantosomeextentbecomparedwiththeworkofFairbairn(1952).whotooktheviewthattheinfantstartsoutatbirthwithasingle,dynamicego,whichisrelationshipseek-ingandreactstotraumabysplitting.Black-stone(1993)foundmanysimilaritiesbetweenFairbairn'stheoryandtransactionalanalysisandsuggestedthatthesesplit-offpartsoftheegowereconsistentwithandcouldheeasilytranslatedintothesecond-orderegostatemodel.Erskine(2003).drawingonFairbairn((952)andGuntrip(1971/199I,196811992),describesthisprocessasfollows:Inthepresenceoffear,achildmaysplitoffpartsofhimorherself.andformanegostatethatisbothacombinationofaninternalizedparentalcontrol,andachild'sfearfulcompliancewiththatcontrol,Theytermthisstate"anti-libidinalego"toem-phasisehowitsuppressesandcontrolsthe"libidinalego"-anegostatethathastheremnantsofwhatwouldhavebeenthena-tura!natureoftheperson.Theydescribethisconflictasoccurringintrapsychical!yforthepurposeofmaintainingasem-blanceofrelationshipwiththecaretakers.bykeepingthenaturalnatureofthepersonsuppressed.(pp.84-85)Fairbairn(1952)describedtraumaasarisingoutofrelationshipfailuresbetweenachiIdandhisorherprimarycaregiver.aviewthathasbeensupportedbymanyothertheorists.Forinstance.Winnicott(1965)wroteofthe"falseself'asarisingoutofthechild'sneed
10
pro-tecttheselfagainsttheparent's"impingements"(p.99).Little(200I)suggeststhat"whentheinfantexperiencesneglect.impingement.orlackofattunementaccompaniedbyalackofreparation.thechildmaygointohidingwith
Vol.
JJ.
No_1.April]OOS
CONFUSIONAND!NTROJECTJOr-;
hisorherfeelingsandrelationalneeds"(p.35).Likewise.Erskineandhiscoauthors(Erskine.2003:Erskine
&
Moursund,
198811998:
Ers-kine.Moursund,
&
Trautmann,1999)havewrittenextensivelyonhowimportantitisforchildrentohavetheirrelationalneedsme!andhowfailureinthisarearesultsinthemdevelop-ingdefensesasameansofcopingwithandcompensatingfortheserelationshipfailures.Onthisbasis,itmakessensetometoviewtheChildegostateasarisingoutofandcon-tainingthoseexperiencesinwhichtheindi-vidual'ssignificantneedsforcontactwerenotmetand.
in
particular,comprisingallofthede-fensesdevelopedtoprotecttheindividualfromtheensuingdiscomfort.Usingthismodel,theParentegostatecanbeunderstoodasasimultaneouslydevelopedre-positorythatcontainsthechild'sinternalizedrepresentationoftheperson(s)whodidnotmeethisorhersignificantneedsforcontact.Theunconsciouspurposeofinternalizingsuchrepresentationsisthatthechildfeelsasthoughheorsheisgainingsomefonnofpseudocon-trolovertheconflictthatisexperiencedasare-sultofthisrelationalfailure.GiventhattheParentandChildegostatesde-velopinthisway.wecansectheobviouslinkwiththefollowingwell-knownobservations:I.TheParentandChildegostatescontainnumerousandvariedexperiences.perhapsgroupedtogetherinwhatStem(1985)callsRepresentationsofInteractionsthathavebeenGeneralized(RIGs).2.Whilemostoftheseexperiencesoccurduringourearlychildhooddevelopment,theycanbeaddedtolaterinlifeand.inparticular.reinforcedbylatertraumaticincidentswhenandiftheindividualisnotabletoappropriatelyprocessandintegrateintoAdultwhathasoccurred.3.TheParentandChildegoslatesdevelopintandemand,assuch.arelockedtogetherinwhatLittle
(2004)
calls"relationalunits"(p.4).Intheseunits."theChildandParentrela-tionshipisaninternalizedrepresentationofanearlierexperiencebetweentheselfandother.orobject":theybothconstantlyinfluencecaehotherand"arebondedtogetherbyaffect"(p,4).Inotherwords,
it
isthewholerelationshipthathasbeeninternalized.
19J
 
HEATHERFOWLJE
4.Sufficientlyattunedcontactandadequatemeetingofthechild'srelationalneedsstrength-ensandsupportsthedevelopmentoftheAdultegostate.Thus,thedevelopingchildisabletoassimilateandintegratetheseappropriateformsofcontactintotheAdultegostateaspositiveself-definingmemorythatcanthenbecalledontosupporttheselfand/orothers.
5.
Becauseofthechild'simmaturityandde-pendenceonthecaretaker,poor-qualityorin-appropriatecontactcannotbeintegratedandassimilatedintotheAdult;
asa
result.suchcontactactsasacatalystforthedevelopment
oEthe
pathologicalChildandParentegostates.
I
tumnowtoourneedforcontactwithothersandhowthisimpactsegostatedevelopment.
Our
Need
forOthers
Manyauthorshavewrittenaboutourneedforothers,includingWinnicott(1965),Bowlby(197911992),Fairbairn(1952),Guntrip(
19681
1992),Erskine(1988),Schore(1994).andStem(1985).
I
thereforestartfromthepremisethatbabiesarebornbothwantingandneedingtobeinrelationship.Therelationshipbetweenachildandhisorherprimarycaretakerhasbeenshowntoinfluenceprofoundlyallareasofthechild'sdevelopment.Bowlby(19721
I
992)identitiedattachmentneedsthatshapeachild'sbehaviorandemphasizedtheimportanceofearlyaswellasprolongedphysicalbondinginthedevelop-mentofaninternalcoreoutofwhichallexperi-encesofself
and
otherwillbedefined.Stem(1985)suggeststhatitisoutofthereciprocityofcontactbetweenaninfantandcaretakerthattheinfant'ssenseofselfbeginstoemergeandoutofwhichheorsheformsaninternalblue-printaboutthenatureofrelationshipswithoth-ers.Shore(1994)detailsthecentralrolethatthefirstrelationshipplaysinbothaffectiveandpsychologicaldevelopmentandinthephysicaldevelopmentofthebrain:hesuggeststhatthisgrowth
is
"dependentuponandinfluencedbythe
socio-emotional
environment"(p.78).Intheirtheoryoftheself.
Hargaden
andSills(2002)suggestthattherelationshipbetweentheprimarycaretakerandtheinfantisthe"foundationonwhichtherestoftheselfisbuilt"(p.19);
it
supportsthehealthy(orother-wise)developmentofthecoreself.Without"another"toattuneto,achildcannotdevelop.
/94
Attunedcontactisvitaltoensuringtheyoungchild'sphysical,personal.andpsycho-logicaldevelopment.This
is
nottominimizetheimpactofthechild'
s
innatepersonality.butrathertoemphasizetherealandalmosttotaldependencethechildhasonhisorherprimarycaretakerduringtheformativeyears-and.asaconsequence.theinherentenormityofparen-talinfluenceOndevelopment.AModelforDeconfusionBasedonBritishObjectRelationsTheoryChildrenbeginlifebothwantingandexpect-ingothers
10
bethereforthem.Thisexpecta-tionisatitshighestwhentheyexperienceaneedforsomekindofcontact,whicharisesap-propriately
in
A~.In
full
expectationthatcare-takerswillmeetthatneed,thechildreachesout.
If
thecaretakerisabletounderstandwhattheneed
is
andrespondappropriately,theneedismetandthechildexperiencessatisfaction(seeFigure2).Thissimpleactcommunicatesthreethingstothechild:thathisorherneedisacceptable.thaiheorshecanbeunderstood,andthattheotherwillrespond.
)
(
Figure
2
TheChildExperiencesSatisfactionIf,however,thecaretakerdoesnotappropri-atelyrespond.thechildwiIIfee!theneedinten-sifying.Thisdisturbsthechild'sinnateexpec-tationthatthecaregiverwi!lbethereforhimOr
TransactionalAnalysisJournal

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