AM I ME, AM I YOU & ARE YOU ME?
I hate myself, but I also want you to be exactly like me!
PREVIOUS: Autonomy & Attachment (#3b)
REVIEW: Ego States – CHILD
• As infants, all humans are born with a built-in biological & psychological set of tendencies, which interact with & responds to their specific environment in their own unique way – but without a formed personality
The child’s first connection is to the mother (usually), not aware of a difference between itself & its caretaker. This one-ness is normal & appropriate. It allows the child to feel safe & protected while gradually becoming acquainted with itself & the big world it has come in to
• Regardless of the type of family, nature & nurture (how we’re treated) combine to form what we think of as our SELF. If born into a reasonably healthy one, the child is allowed & encouraged to develop the pre-set template they came into the world with
✶ This creates a sense of external & then internal safety. Having permission to be oneself gradually makes it possible to function in the world as an individual who is comfortable in their skin & with other people
a. BROKEN Symbiosis – BUT, if the mother is not available or unable to connect with the infant to nurture it from a deep place of love, the symbiotic bond is never formed or is too soon broken, before the child can tolerate it
This can be:
— because of’ illness or death, spousal abuse, external trauma such as an accident, natural disasters, war…..
OR most commonly
— personality defects like narcissism, anxiety, depression, rage at having to be a caretaker, not wanting to be tied down…..
✶ This creates intense & long-lasting terror in the baby, with the message that there’s something fundamentally wrong with it. Such children spend the rest of their life trying to forge that missing link with someone – anyone – to stop that terrible, relentless anxiety, SO-
• they end up alone, never forming any intimate bond – OR
• find another wounded soul they can attach to & live together in isolation – OR
• keep being attracted to emotionally unavailable people, reproducing the very abandonment they so fear (trying to symbiose with the ‘distant’ mother)
b. UNBROKEN Symbiosis : at the other extreme – the mother who didn’t get that bond in her own infancy, will try to get it now from her child – creating a captive who can never leave them!
This mother will make every effort to negate the child’s individuality in favor of her own needs & wants, to make that little person her clone, & will punish any disagreement or separation.
If there’s no one else available or strong enough to interfere with this suffocating attachment (father, sibling or other…) the child never has the freedom to develop it’s own identity, but stays dependent on the mother (& family or substitutes) for it’s very existence throughout life.
This child grows up TO (some or all):
• never leave home • not have any rights
• be depressed, isolated, suicidal
• have weak boundaries
• be unable to have healthy, autonomous relationships
• be terrified of abandonment in any form
• be unable to support themself
• not trust their own judgment
• not have their own opinions about things
• have symbiotic relationships with domineering people….
If the child does get away, then as an A-CoA, they’ll be terrified of any close involvement with others. The fear of being engulfed again is so unbearable that it’s expressed as fear of commitment.
Even when they are in some form of relationship, it will be with extreme emotional detachment, a need for total control, endless sexual conquests, come here – go away interactions, irresponsibility…. or just walking away & never looking back!
➼ Both the strayers & the leavers are ripe for addictions, to fill that big emotional hole inside – but it never works
INFO: Symbiosis can be understood through the ego state model. In a symbiotic relationship, both people use only some of their ego states to relate to each other, which they combine, functioning as if they only had one identity between them. They get stuck in rigid roles, resulting in less flexibility.
NEXT: Symbiosis (#2)