About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Psychology of the Self Applied to the Adopted Child


The Psychology of the Self 

Application of the Adopted Child

Psychology of self

The psychology of self is the study of either the cognitive, conative or affective  representation of one's identity or the subject of experience. The earliest formulation of the self in modern psychology derived from the distinction between the self as I, the subjective knower, and the self as Me, the object that is known.
Current views of the self in psychology position the self as playing an integral part in human motivation, cognition, affect, and social identity. It may be the case that we can now usefully attempt to ground experience of self in a neural process with cognitive consequences, which will give us insight into the elements of which the complex multiply situated selves of modern identity are composed.
The self has many facets that help make up integral parts of it, such as self-awareness, self-esteem, self-knowledge and self-perception.
 All parts of the self enable people to alter, change, add, and modify aspects of themselves in order to gain social acceptance in society. “Probably the best account of the origins of selfhood is that the self comes into being at the interface between the inner biological processes of the human body and the sociocultural network to which the person belongs.

Kohut's formulation

Heinz Kohut initially proposed a bipolar self compromising two systems of narcissistic perfection: 1) a system of ambitions and, 2) a system of ideals. Kohut called the pole of ambitions the narcissistic self (later, the grandiose self), while the pole of ideals was designated the idealized parental imago. According to Kohut, these poles of the self represented natural progressions in the psychic life of infants and toddlers.
Kohut argued that when the child's ambitions and exhibitionistic strivings were chronically frustrated, arrests in the grandiose self led to the preservation of a false, expansive sense of self that could manifest outwardly in the visible grandiosity of the frank narcissist, or remain hidden from view, unless discovered in a narcissistic therapeutic transference (or selfobject transference) that would expose these primitive grandiose fantasies and strivings. Kohut termed this form of transference a mirror transference. In this transference, the strivings of the grandiose self are mobilized and the patient attempts to use the therapist to gratify these strivings.

Kohut proposed that arrests in the pole of ideals occurred when the child suffered chronic and excessive disappointment over the failings of early idealized figures. Deficits in the pole of ideals were associated with the development of an idealizing transference to the therapist who becomes associated with the patient's primitive fantasies of omnipotent parental perfection.
Kohut believed that narcissistic injuries were inevitable and, in any case, necessary to temper ambitions and ideals with realism through the experience of more manageable frustrations and disappointments. It was the chronicity and lack of recovery from these injuries (arising from a number of possible causes) that he regarded as central to the preservation of primitive self systems untempered by realism.
According to the 1984 book, "How Does Analysis Cure, Kohut's observation of patients led him to propose two additional forms of transference associated with self deficits: 1) the twinship and, 2) the merger transference. In his later years, Kohut believed that selfobject needs were both present and quite varied in normal individuals, as well as in narcissistic individuals. To be clear, selfobjects are not external persons. Kohut and Wolf, 1978 explain:
"Self objects are objects which we experience as part of our self; the expected control over them is, therefore, closer to the concept of control which a grownup expects to have over his own body and mind than to the concept of control which he expects to have over others and over their children. (p.413)"
Kohut's notion of the self can be difficult to grasp because it is experience-distant, although it is posited based upon experience-near observation of the therapeutic transference. Kohut relied heavily on empathy as a method of observation. Specifically, the clinician's observations of his or her own feelings in the transference help the clinician see things from the subjective view of the patient—to experience the world in ways that are closer to the way the patient experiences it. (note: Kohut did not regard empathy as curative. Empathy is a method of observation).

Winnicott's selves

Donald Winnicott distinguished what he called the "true self" from the "false self" in the human personality, considering the true self as one based on the individual's sense of being, not doing, something which was rooted in the experiencing body. As he memorably put it to Harry Guntrip, 'You know about "being active", but not about "just growing, just breathing" it was the latter qualities that went to form the true self.
Nevertheless, Winnicott did not undervalue the role of the false self in the human personality, regarding it in fact as a necessary form of defensive organization – a kind of caretaker, a survival suit behind the protection of which the true self was able to continue to exist. Five levels of false self organization were identified by Winnicott, running along a kind of continuum.
  1. In the most severe instance, the false self completely replaces and ousts the true self, leaving the latter a mere possibility.
  2. Less severely, the false self protects the true self, which remains unactualised - for Winnicott a clear example of a clinical condition organised for the positive goal of preserving the individual in spite of abnormal environmental conditions of the environment.
  3. Closer to health, the false self supports the individual's search for conditions that will allow the true self to recover its well-being - its own identity.
  4. Even closer to health, we find the false self "... established on the basis of identifications".
  5. Finally, in a healthy person, the false self is composed of that which facilitates social behavior, the manners and courtesy that allows for a smooth social life, with emotions expressed in socially acceptable forms.
As for the true self, Winnicott linked it both to playing, and to a kind of "hide and seek"' designed to protect creative ownership of one's real self against exploitation, without entirely forfeiting the ability to relate to others.

Berne's transactional analysis

In his transactional analysis theory Eric Berne distinguished the personality's ego states- Parent, Adult and Child - from what he called 'the real Self, the one that can move from one ego state to another.'
  • The parent ego consists of borrowed behaviors and feelings from previous caregivers. The parent ego can consist of either the Nurturing or Critical Parent. 
  • The Nurturing Parent contains a more loving nature, 
  • whereas the Critical (or Prejudiced) Parent consists of preconceived ideas, thoughts, and behaviors learned from previous parents or caregivers. Some of this information can be beneficial, while others are not.
  • The adult ego is otherwise known as our data-processing center. This ego state is able to judge information based on facts, rather than emotions or preconceived beliefs.
  • The child ego is identified as 
  • ..............the state that holds all of our memories, emotions, and feelings. People carry this ego state with them all of the time and can reflect back on it at any time. This state can also be divided into two segments: 
  • the Free (or Natural) child 
  • and the Adapted (and/or Rebellious) child. 
  • The Free child represents spontaneity, creativity, and a direct way of perceiving the world. Intimate relationships are able to form due to a person’s contact with their own inner child. 
  • The less people are in touch with their inner child, the less they are able to form intimate relationships with other people. 
  • The Adapted child is the state in which people are able to comply and respond with parental commands and messages. If a parental command is viewed as too strong and demanding, a child ego can rebel against it, which is why this state can also become the Rebellious Child.
Berne considered that 'the feeling of "Self" is a mobile one. It can reside in any of the three ego states at any given moment, and can jump from one to the other as occasion arises'.
A person’s tone, gestures, choice of words, posture, and emotional state can portray which ego state they are currently in. By knowing about their own ego states, a person can use each one in particular situations in order to enhance their experience or make new social connections. For example, a person would most likely want to be in a Free Child state along with the Adult state while attending a party in order to maximize the fun they are having while also being able to make wise choices.
Transactions is another concept in the transactional theory that relates to how people of a certain ego state interact with people of the same or different ego state at a particular moment. Straight transactions are complementary and result in clear communication among other people. On the contrary, crossed transactions are of diverging ego states that make communication either hard or frustrating. These provoke emotional stress and negative feedback. Nevertheless, Berne saw the Self as the most valuable part of the personality: 'when people get to know each other well, they penetrate into the depths where this real Self resides, and that is the part of the other person they respect and love.

Jungian understandings

In Jungian theory, the Self is one of several archetypes, which are predispositions of responding to the world in particular ways. The Self signifies the coherent whole, unifying both the consciousness and unconscious mind of a person. The Self, according to Jung, is the most important and difficult archetype to understand. It is realized as the product of individuation, which is defined as the process of integrating one's personality. The self can appear to the individual both impersonally as dreams and images (circle, mandala, crystal, or stone) or personally (royal couple, divine child, or another divine symbol). Symbolic spiritual people, such as Christ and Mohammed, are also seen as symbols of the self, because they represent unity and equilibrium. The wise old woman/man can also serve as 'a symbolic personification of the Self'.
What distinguishes Jungian psychology from previous theories is the idea that there are two centers of the personality. The ego is the center of conscious identity, whereas the Self is the center of the total personality—including consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The Self is both the whole and the center. While the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle. People know of this Self, yet it is not known. Jung expresses it in this way: "If the Self could be wholly experienced, it would be a limited experience, whereas in reality its experience is unlimited and endless.... If I were one with the Self I would have knowledge of everything, I would speak Sanskrit, read cuneiform script, know the events that took place in pre-history be acquainted with the life of other planets, etc.
The Self, besides being the centre of the psyche, is also autonomous, meaning that it exists outside of time and space. Jung also called the Self an imago dei. The Self is the source of dreams and often appears as an authority figure in dreams with the ability to perceive the future or guide one in the present.