Born Aliens - Part II

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Moreover, we must attach some epigenetic importance to some ofrepparttar stimuli. If we do, in effect we recognizerepparttar 126342 effect of early stimuli upon later life development.

At their beginning, neonates are only vaguely aware, in a binary sort of way.

l. "Comfortable/uncomfortable", "cold/warm", "wet/dry", "colour/absence of colour", "light/dark", "face/no face" and so on. There are grounds to believe thatrepparttar 126343 distinction betweenrepparttar 126344 outer world andrepparttar 126345 inner one is vague at best. Natal fixed action patterns (rooting, sucking, postural adjustment, looking, listening, grasping, and crying) invariably provokerepparttar 126346 caregiver to respond. The newborn, as we said earlier, is able to relate to physical patterns but his ability seems to extend torepparttar 126347 mental as well. He sees a pattern: fixed action followed byrepparttar 126348 appearance ofrepparttar 126349 caregiver followed by a satisfying action onrepparttar 126350 part ofrepparttar 126351 caregiver. This seems to him to be an inviolable causal chain (though precious few babies would put it in these words). Because he is unable to distinguish his inside fromrepparttar 126352 outside repparttar 126353 newborn "believes" that his action evokedrepparttar 126354 caregiver fromrepparttar 126355 inside (in whichrepparttar 126356 caregiver is contained). This isrepparttar 126357 kernel of both magical thinking and Narcissism. The baby attributes to himself magical powers of omnipotence and of omnipresence (action-appearance). It also loves itself very much because it is able to thus satisfy himself and his needs. He loves himself because he hasrepparttar 126358 means to make himself happy. The tension-relieving and pleasurable world comes to life throughrepparttar 126359 baby and then he swallows it back through his mouth. This incorporation ofrepparttar 126360 world throughrepparttar 126361 sensory modalities isrepparttar 126362 basis forrepparttar 126363 "oral stage" inrepparttar 126364 psychodynamic theories.

This self-containment and self-sufficiency, this lack of recognition ofrepparttar 126365 environment are why children until their third year of life are such a homogeneous group (allowing for some variance). Infants show a characteristic style of behaviour (one is almost tempted to say, a universal character) in as early asrepparttar 126366 first few weeks of their lives. The first two years of life witnessrepparttar 126367 crystallization of consistent behavioural patterns, common to all children. It is true that even newborns have an innate temperament but not until an interaction withrepparttar 126368 outside environment is established dorepparttar 126369 traits of individual diversity appear.

At birth,repparttar 126370 newborn shows no attachment but simple dependence. It is easy to prove:repparttar 126371 child indiscriminately reacts to human signals, scans for patterns and motions, enjoys soft, high pitched voices and cooing, soothing sounds. Attachment starts physiologically inrepparttar 126372 fourth week. The child turns clearly towards his mother's voice, ignoring others. He begins to develop a social smile, which is easily distinguishable from his usual grimace. A virtuous circle is set in motion byrepparttar 126373 child's smiles, gurgles and coos. These powerful signals release social behaviour, elicit attention, loving responses. This, in turn, drivesrepparttar 126374 child to increaserepparttar 126375 dose of his signaling activity. These signals are, of course, reflexes (fixed action responses, exactly likerepparttar 126376 palmar grasp). Actually, untilrepparttar 126377 18th week of his life,repparttar 126378 child continues to react to strangers favourably. Only then doesrepparttar 126379 child begin to develop a budding social-behavioural system based onrepparttar 126380 high correlation betweenrepparttar 126381 presence of his caregiver and gratifying experiences. Byrepparttar 126382 third month there is a clear preference ofrepparttar 126383 mother and byrepparttar 126384 sixth month,repparttar 126385 child wants to venture intorepparttar 126386 world. At first,repparttar 126387 child grasps things (as long as he can see his hand). Then he sits up and watches things in motion (if not too fast or noisy). Thenrepparttar 126388 child clings torepparttar 126389 mother, climbs all over her and explores her body. There is still no object permanence andrepparttar 126390 child gets perplexed and loses interest if a toy disappears under a blanket, for instance. The child still associates objects with satisfaction/non-satisfaction. His world is still very much binary.

Asrepparttar 126391 child grows, his attention narrows and is dedicated first torepparttar 126392 mother and to a few other human figures and, byrepparttar 126393 age of 9 months, only torepparttar 126394 mother. The tendency to seek others virtually disappears (which is reminiscent of imprinting in animals). The infant tends to equate his movements and gestures with their results that is, he is still inrepparttar 126395 phase of magical thinking.

The separation fromrepparttar 126396 mother,repparttar 126397 formation of an individual,repparttar 126398 separation fromrepparttar 126399 world (the "spewing out" ofrepparttar 126400 outside world) are all tremendously traumatic.

The infant is afraid to lose his mother physically (no "mother permanence") as well as emotionally (will she be angry at this new found autonomy?). He goes away a step or two and runs back to receiverepparttar 126401 mother's reassurance that she still loves him and that she is still there. The tearing up of one's self into my SELF andrepparttar 126402 OUTSIDE WORLD is an unimaginable feat. It is equivalent to discovering irrefutable proof thatrepparttar 126403 universe is an illusion created byrepparttar 126404 brain or that our brain belongs to a universal pool and not to us, or that we are God (the child discovers that he is not God, it is a discovery ofrepparttar 126405 same magnitude). The child's mind is shredded to pieces: some pieces are still HE and others are NOT HE (=the outside world). This is an absolutely psychedelic experience (andrepparttar 126406 root of all psychoses, probably).

If not managed properly, if disturbed in some way (mainly emotionally), ifrepparttar 126407 separation individuation process goes awry, it could result in serious psychopathologies. There are grounds to believe that several personality disorders (Narcissistic and Borderline) can be traced to a disturbance in this process in early childhood.

Then, of course, there isrepparttar 126408 on-going traumatic process that we call "life".

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

Psychology as Storytelling - Part I

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

But perhapsrepparttar distinction is artificial. Perhapsrepparttar 126341 mind is simplyrepparttar 126342 way we experience our brains. Endowed withrepparttar 126343 gift (or curse) of introspection, we experience a duality, a split, constantly being both observer and observed. Moreover, talk therapy involves TALKING - which isrepparttar 126344 transfer of energy from one brain to another throughrepparttar 126345 air. This is directed, specifically formed energy, intended to trigger certain circuits inrepparttar 126346 recipient brain. It should come as no surprise if it were to be discovered that talk therapy has clear physiological effects uponrepparttar 126347 brain ofrepparttar 126348 patient (blood volume, electrical activity, discharge and absorption of hormones, etc.).

All this would be doubly true ifrepparttar 126349 mind was, indeed, only an emergent phenomenon ofrepparttar 126350 complex brain - two sides ofrepparttar 126351 same coin.

Psychological theories ofrepparttar 126352 mind are metaphors ofrepparttar 126353 mind. They are fables and myths, narratives, stories, hypotheses, conjunctures. They play (exceedingly) important roles inrepparttar 126354 psychotherapeutic setting but not inrepparttar 126355 laboratory. Their form is artistic, not rigorous, not testable, less structured than theories inrepparttar 126356 natural sciences. The language used is polyvalent, rich, effusive, and fuzzy in short, metaphorical. They are suffused with value judgements, preferences, fears, post facto and ad hoc constructions. None of this has methodological, systematic, analytic and predictive merits.

Still,repparttar 126357 theories in psychology are powerful instruments, admirable constructs ofrepparttar 126358 mind. As such, they are bound to satisfy some needs. Their very existence proves it.

The attainment of peace of mind is a need, which was neglected by Maslow in his famous rendition. People will sacrifice material wealth and welfare, will forgo temptations, will ignore opportunities, and will put their lives in danger just to reach this bliss of wholeness and completeness. There is, in other words, a preference of inner equilibrium over homeostasis. It isrepparttar 126359 fulfilment of this overriding need that psychological theories set out to cater to. In this, they are no different than other collective narratives (myths, for instance).

In some respects, though, there are striking differences:

Psychology is desperately trying to link up to reality and to scientific discipline by employing observation and measurement and by organizingrepparttar 126360 results and presenting them usingrepparttar 126361 language of mathematics. This does not atone for its primordial sin: that its subject matter is ethereal and inaccessible. Still, it lends an air of credibility and rigorousness to it.

The second difference is that while historical narratives are "blanket" narratives psychology is "tailored", "customized". A unique narrative is invented for every listener (patient, client) and he is incorporated in it asrepparttar 126362 main hero (or anti-hero). This flexible "production line" seems to berepparttar 126363 result of an age of increasing individualism. True,repparttar 126364 "language units" (large chunks of denotates and connotates) are one andrepparttar 126365 same for every "user". In psychoanalysis,repparttar 126366 therapist is likely to always employrepparttar 126367 tripartite structure (Id, Ego, Superego). But these are language elements and need not be confused withrepparttar 126368 plots. Each client, each person, and his own, unique, irreplicable, plot.


Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and

Visit Sam's Web site at

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