Separation & Individuation (Part 2)

 I need to let go of them

PREVIOUS: S & I – Intro, Part 1

SITES: Lack of Object Constancy (causes Narcissism & other Personality Disorders)

Hole in my heart   re. BOOK about how Kathy Brous ” ….. accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Includes interview with Goldie Hawn & Dr. Dan Siegel, about the brain & Attachment Disorder, from lack of Object Constancy in childhood.

S & I DILEMA – every child’s internal conflict between wanting to crawl around to explore their world, & needing to know they can always stay close to mom. This continues – as adults – wanting our needs to be met (by someone else) AND wanting to have personal freedom (autonomy). This dilemma is intensified for anyone deprived of original symbiotic safety.

If we only think in terms of either being dependent or being independent  – we put ourselves in a bind. It’s:
• staying emotionally dependent, leading to the fear that if we speak up for ourselves or express our True Self we risk hurting the other person or making them mad – so, losing the connection with them (A.)
• we the assumption that being independent means always being serious, being alone, not having fun, taking on responsibilities that we don’t feel ready for, being burdened or trapped …..

✶ However, genuine maturity (inter-dependence) includes a balance of these two needs. How much of each category will vary from person to person, & can vary from day-to-day!

🚴🏻‍♂️ SEPARATION – for ACoAs in the present: It’s about unhooking ourselves from the addictive symbiotic attachment to our dysfunctional family. This separation is not primarily physical, although sometimes that too is necessary, but rather needs to happen inside of us.

– the transition from our family’s ways of viewing the world & defining us as a person, to become fully ourselves – the True Self we were born as, but didn’t originally get to know or weren’t allowed to develop

S & I  – Growing up really means shifting away :
FROM– the FS which is controlled by our inner parental sub-self (Introject)
TO– our True Self. This gradually happens as the WIC realizes that it can rely on the ever-present Healthy Core which has actually gained a great deal of knowledge & wisdom over the years.

Our developing ‘UNIT’ (Healthy Adult & Loving Parent) is quite capable of being an effective internal leader & caretaker of the Child in a wide variety of situations, once we access all that accumulated experience.
Keep saying: “I know what I know”! Book-ending helps to make this shift.

DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS Theory (Robert Havighurst)
Development is continuous throughout a person’s entire life, in stages. Moving from one stage to the next comes by successfully solving a problem or accomplishing certain age-related tasks, common to the majority of people in a culture.

Tasks at each stage are influenced by
• biology (physical maturation, genetic makeup)
• psychology (personal values, goals)  • sociology (child’s specific culture) CHART

ORIGINS of S & I Theory describes how people develop an identity – pushed by biological urges & pulled by socio-cultural forces.
🚦🚥 Repeated disruptions in this all-important process usually results in great difficulty creating & maintaining a reliable sense of Self in adulthood.(Margaret Mahler (1897 – 1985)

The S & I  CYCLE – phases
Normal Autistic: (first month) Mahler eventually abandoning this phase, based on later infant research, leading her to believe it doesn’t actually exist – but is still included in many books
Normal Symbiotic : (0-5 mths) when the child is fused with the mother, & together they’re separate from the rest of the world. The infant is aware of its mother, but has no sense of individuality, with a barrier between the two of them & the rest of the world

S & I (6-24 mths), the infant begins to break out of the ‘autistic shell’ of self-absorption, into the world of human connections
Separation is the start of breaking the fusion with mother, developing limits, & the infant’s sense that there’s a difference between the mind of the mother & its own
Individuation is the development of the infant’s ego with a sense of identity & cognitive abilities (thinking), leading eventually to the formation of it’s own unique character – if allowed!

NEXT: S & I (#3)

2 thoughts on “Separation & Individuation (Part 2)

  1. This was really good because it gave an overview of the whole process. I’m all about understanding the big picture first. It was also really hard to read because I know how messed up my earliest years of life were. I did not have a “good enough” mother. My mom has told me that during the “terrible twos” if my brother threw a tantrum, she would get down on the floor and throw a tantrum too. She did this to scare him to death so that he wouldn’t throw anymore tantrums. She had all kinds of cruel “tricks” like this to control my brother and me. It’s sad because we were just being natural and normal – but we were thwarted.

    I copied four of your paragraphs below. In reference to these paragraphs, do you think that someone who lacked a “good enough” mom in these crucial areas can overcome the situation in adulthood? How? Is it really possible?

    “The child has to be helped to negotiate the conflict between autonomous functioning & its frustration caused by parents scaling back their earlier vigilance (which feels like A.)”

    “Risk: that mother will be annoyed by this clinging & become impatient, overprotective or withdrawn, leaving the child feeling unsafe. Too much of any of these parental reactions leaves the child fearful of being abandoned – setting an emotional tone for the life (predisposition to constant anxiety from fear of loss).
    ALSO: getting stuck emotionally in this childhood phase without a successful resolution shows up as “Push-Pull / Come here – Go away” adult relationships.”

    “Crisis is resolved based on the newly forming personality by
    the child’s fledgling use of language, developing superego & to its interaction with the temperament of the ‘good-enough’ mother.”

    “Open-ended – allows the child to keep growing towards ‘Object Constancy’ : the very important ability to hold a consistent internal image of other people, based on trusting their proven dependability. The child can then hold on to its own identity as being separate from everyone else, while staying mental connected to others, whether with them or not, or no matter how it’s being treated! This minimizes the terrible feelings of anxiety, aloneness, abandonment, isolation, being ‘different’ & unloved.”


    • Yes, I know it’s possible – but each person goes thru this process in their own way & own time. It takes using every tool in the book, and consistency, which is what the WIC needs.


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