Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hester Solomon - Dialectical Process and the Creation of the Individual

"Throughout our lives, there is a constant dialectical process that enables our essential personal coniunctio-our internal and external families-to elaborate and grow. This paper has tried to achieve a particular synthesis between apparently opposing theoretical elements, illustrating with clinical material how this explanatory model may be of use in the elaboration of the intricate and subtle build up of the personality over time in its relation to important others.

The infant's personality is built up through a constant, dynamic three-way interaction between:

(1) the unique real individual baby (primal self);

(2) the common innate predisposition to perceive the world through certain fixed categories, i.e., through the archetypal patterns, or the images of the instincts, with which each of us is invested by virtue of being human;

(3) the real parents, both as individuals and as a couple and how their care for the baby with its variations and vicissitudes moderates the experience of I-ness of the infant and the shape of the archetypal structures.

This third category, the quality of the parental environment as it is transmitted in subtle ways to the infant, is itself a result of an interaction between (1) and (2) and (3) in the previous generation, the real mother, the real father, and the other carers, themselves carrying an ongoing dynamic process between the elements (1), (2), and (3) from their own history.

The infant responds to this complex mixture, and the real parents respond in turn to the developing infant, through a constant to-andfro communication. How all this happens, back and forth, over time, building up a complex feedback set of stimulus and response patterns that become the foundation of each individual's personality - all this is the stuff of our analytic work. This represents a vision of the history of the mental functioning over the life of an individual which is common to both archetypal analytical psychology and to object relations theory.

So image creates image, and in the work of analytic reconstruction, a history of the internal image building is recreated. This may be similar to, different from, or overlap with the real or objective history. It has fundamental implications for concerns about epistemology in analytic theory building-how do we know what we know and what is it exactly that we do know.

This article proposes a way of understanding the intricate and subtle processes of change and development that are described in the traditions of both analytical psychology and object relations theory through the mediation of the dialectical model. In order to accomplish this, theories concerning deep structures are invoked, of which the dialectical model is one."
(pp. 327-328)


Hester Solomon (1991). Archetypal Psychology and Object Relations Theory. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 36, pp. 307-329

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