Dissertation
Dissertation > Philosophy, religion > Psychology > Psychological theory > Of psychology factions and their research

The birth of the human psyche

Author WuXiaoQing
Tutor GuoBenYu
School Nanjing Normal University
Course Basic Psychology
Keywords ego object relation symbiotic separation-individuation child psychosis
CLC B84-06
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
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Mahler (Margaret Schoenberger Mahler, 1897-1986) was an important child psychoanalyst, a ego-psychologist as well as a veteran therapeutist on child psychosis. She combined the psychoanalytic traditional drive model, ego model with the object-relations model in psychoanalysis. On the basis of a lot of experiential observations and clinical practice, she gradually formed her own theoretical characteristics and constructed the separation-individuation theory setting forth the child’s psychological birth from when he was born. Her research was centered on the whole Oedipus process from the infant was born, his psychological fusion with his mother to when he could be separated and achieve emotional object constancy. She divided the child’s psychological development into three stages, that is, the normal autistic phase、the normal symbiotic phase and separation-individuation phase. The latter could also be divided into four substages, namely, differentiation and the development of the body image、practicing、rapprochement、consolidation of individuality and the emotional object constancy subphases. In Marhler’s opinion, a variety of the child’s psychiatric symptoms were in the normal development, but why the self was distorted was due to many reasons, especially that the early mother-infant relationship was distorted. Autistic psychotic child was not aware of the objects beyong his own body. And symbiotic psychotic child could become aware that his own need must be met by something from outside, but to him, his mother was still a part of his representation. Thus, she proposed that the core of psychotic child was the matter of defect, that is to say, the child could not obtain the basic feeling of reality through his mother. He could not regard his mother as a object to meet his own needs. He could not become separated from the reality. Fot the treatment of the child psychosis, the point to be emphasized is that the child must be made to obtain the ideas on reality gradually through his mother. Mahler’s theory of children’s psychological development, her psychiatry on children and her therapeutic methods have made great contributions to the development of ego psychology. At the same time, there are some limitations in Mahler’s theory.

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