Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kenneth Lambert: Deintegration - Reintegration of the Self

"Jung, it may be remembered, used to liken early ego consciousness to a number of islands as if in an archipelago which then came together to make up a sort of land mass that could be called the ego—a notion reminiscent of Glover's ego nuclei coming together to form a coherent whole (GLOVER 6). The image created a number of questions and laid a foundation for further investigation.

Under its stimulus, Fordham related the image to the close observation of children, and this led him to postulate the following model (FORDHAM 2). The original self at the beginning of life is an integrate of all personal and archetypal potentialities and possibilities. These are the archetypes and ego-consciousness—still potential and not yet involved in the world of objects of flesh and blood, and of space and time. At some point, in intra-uterine life, or at birth, this self-integrate, so to speak, loosens up, and, through a process of partial deintegration, some of the elements separate out from the whole and get related to outside objects. For instance, the archetypal expectation of a nipple and breast may be met when an actual breast is presented to the baby, or in everyday language when the baby is put to the breast. When things go well the infant latches on to the breast and begins to suck. At the same time something of awareness or consciousness of what is happening comes into being—quite strongly if things fail to go well and an appreciable clash is involved. Awareness, however, and certainly consciousness seem to be shattered by rage and fear if the difference between the reality and the expectation is very great indeed, as I postulate to have been the case in the early and cumulative traumata suffered by the daughter of my patient. Under normal or favourable circumstances, however, some ego-consciousness emerges in connection with mouth-nipple experiences, so that, at this point, the self may be conceived of as being composed of unrealised archetypal potential, on the one hand, together with bits of ego-consciousness on the other. These are attached to palpable images formed by the meeting or getting together of the archetypal expectation of, say, a breast to be sucked with the reality of an actual breast objectively there. The realisation of the sucking potential in this way is achieved by its separating out from the original self and forming ‘an island of consciousness’—a de-integrate in Fordham's terms. We may link this with Winnicott's well-known notion of the infant's ‘creation’ of the breast when presented with one. Jungians naturally think that he can do this by virtue of an archetypal predisposition to find a breast and to ‘create’ it as his own subjective experience of an ‘outer’ reality matched to an inner expectation. Winnicott's description of object formation and internalised objects in addition can help Jungians to conceive of archetypal inner objects when, say, the breast, split into a good or bad object and, later, as a whole object, i.e., good and bad, has become an inner possession of the infant.

Fordham's de-integration process applies to the whole development of the infant, child and adult at each stage of life in terms of cognitive, emotional and conative processes. Thus he gradually comes into relationship with parts of the mother's body and with parts of his own body including skin surfaces and the orifices, as well as experiences of being held, being cleaned up, being fed, becoming aware of and forming multifarious relationships with father, siblings and members of large groups, with time and space, with night and day, with animals, flowers, etc., etc. It is postulated that there are archetypal predispositions to expect to meet all these real objects and experiences and that bits of ego consciousness get activated by this meeting. Also the internal archetypal themes are presented by education and culture, by means of the symbolism inherent in religious rituals, national occasions, initiation rites and in ceremonies connected with birth, death and marriage, etc. All the time, de-integration and re-integration processes are taking place, so that the re-integrated aspects of the self become more realised in terms of flesh and blood, space and time and also have more consciousness attached to them. Furthermore, the pieces of ego consciousness that emerge come together, as a whole, to form what we call the ego (Cf. PLAUT 16). This links together archetypal potentialities with reality in a conscious way, and thereby are formed the archetypal internal objects of the self. The theory of de-integration/re-integration should be understood as referring to a spontaneous process rather than a contrived one and it is something that ego consciousness goes along with in principle. The integrative processes are postulated to belong to the personality as a whole and not to the ego as such, although the latter has its part to play in the process. Fordham's description of the indications of maturity in ego-functioning therefore goes beyond that of Jung and Abenheimer (FORDHAM 4). In addition to his list of indications like (1) perception, (2) the organisation of mental contents, (3) remembering, (4) control over mobility, (5) reality testing, (6) defence structuring, he adds something that is decisive — (7) the capacity of the ego to relinquish its controlling and organising functions in favour of de-integrative and re-integrative process and in favour of spontaneous functioning, as in creativity, etc.

If we were to ask what the difference is between the original self-integrate and the re-integrated self, after an appropriate series of de-integrations, at the level of maturity suitable for the stage of life that has been reached, we could describe it in terms of content. The primary self-integrate is a conglomerate of archetypal potentiality only. At later stages of realisation, the self encompasses (1) archetypal potential, (2) archetypal images of not yet fully experienced reality, (3) archetypal internal objects experienced in space and time, and in flesh and blood, to which aspects of ego-consciousness have become attached, and (4) a growing coherence of ego-fragments into a loose organisation with a centre called the ego—an essential part of the re-integrated self."
(pp. 12-14)

Kenneth Lambert (1981). Emerging Consciousness. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol, 26, pp. 1-17

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