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False Beliefs as Transitional Objects

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posted on Sep, 6 2018 @ 12:24 AM
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When a baby enters the world, the transition is scary. The trauma of breathing that first bit of air is often delayed, which would trigger and anxiety attack, and hence, the commonality of the crying newborn.

The solution to this 'antithesis' is the warmth and connection of the mother. I have personally bear witness to this process with my own sister and her newborn son. There is a very subtle semiotic transition between the abstract warmth brought about by the mothers loving arms, and the emotional calmness she brings about to the infants crying fits. Evolution is simply a thesis-antithesis-synthesis continuum, with the continuum becoming subtler and subtler in whatever sensory continuum it works through, bridging the 'gap' between organisms to mediate semiotic connection.

At around 2 months, attachment processes begin to emerge, and it is a strange thing indeed! It is definitely one of those 'quantum jump' sort of moments. What precedes the smirk of an infant? It's hard to know - as far as I can tell, the only social emotion prior to that is shared eye-gaze. Between the ability to be made calm by staring into the eyes of an other, and the active and agentive amusement in the other's face, seems to be the 'jump into existence'. The former state is passively hypnotic; the latter state is wonderfully amused. There is an interpretation in the latter that marks the beginning of 'attachment'.

The mother is obviously the primary attachment object - both because she was the matrix of his development, as well as the person he/she is mostly around. It is, as any reasonable person recognizes, as "nature made it". Still, there will come a time, somewhere between 2 and 3, where the now toddler has to be willing to step away from mama - the earliest sound produced by a human mouth is 'maaa' - and the way that often happens is by the toddler taking on the role of the caregiver vis-à-vis another object. It is utterly and astonishingly adorable to watch! This relationship marks a period where the 'caregiving' self begins to realize that it can 'be for itself'. Yet, of course, the object the child carries around isn't real: its an object which it can project its needs upon. The object is implicitly the 'infant', and the toddler is implicitly imitating the caregiving mother; but at the same time, the object is something that is held and touched: it is the continuous contact between the bear, the blanky, etc to the body of the toddler, which mediates the comfort. It is, indeed, this primary tactile-affective relationship which eventually creates the self-narrative of the toddler, tending to the bear. On that note, the bear, in being a representation of an animal, would mediate a caregiving relationship, whereas a blanket or a pillow, in being inanimate, would seem to indicate a delay in growth, from the passive "need for warmth' to the active "ability to care".

False Beliefs as Transitional Objects



When we grow and become more existentially self-aware, and enter a period in life where philosophy, science, or art enters the picture, and encourages us to think, or sometimes, not think, we come to take on a representation of the world that is precisely 'fitted' to our existential life-situation. In a very one-to-one way, the three attachment categories 'graft' onto the object relational thinking patterns of adolescents and early adults, who come to represent the world in precisely the ways implied by the metaphors - which are representations of the consequences of self and other interactions.

So how does this connect with the earlier period in our lives? Well, firstly, lets note that the self is growing in a 'fractal' way, because we only have one brain, one continuous sequence of experience, but many different ways of experiencing reality. It is precisely the 'growth' of our consciousness, from embodiment, to intersubjectivity, then to existential psycholinguistic representation, where the metaphors of narrative, or the narrative of the metaphors we have lived, which comes to define how it is we relate to the world.

If a secure attachment enables a toddler to take on the caregiving role relative to the animal object (i.e. teddy bear) and an insecure attachment prevents the transition from the 'warmth' of holding on to an object that implicitly reminds you of the mother, to the ability to 'identify' with the caregiving role of the mother, we can see something similar in the person who can accept the fundamentally social and relational nature of our consciousness and being, and so becomes a 'caregiver' not just to himself, but to others, and the person who holds to a mythological narrative, which is sustained by another form like "mother", "matter", or material things which give him pleasure, and is still too existentially dissociated from his essential nature to grow into the identity of a caregiver.

Think about how insecurely attached indiviudals are likely to think. If something is a speculation, and there is no evidence for the speculation to be justified, isn't it therefore offensive, or at least, anti-social, to ignore how unreasonable it is to prioritize this belief over the irrational nature which it stems from? There is a subtle social asymmetry in situations like this where we hold to a specific belief which has no evidence for it, all the while speaking to another human as if they didn't have exactly the same sort of cognitive-brain mechanisms to recognize the coherence of incoherence of something that we assert. It is something that is genuinely pre-autistic, that is, a behavior that would probably be present in the parents of a child who develops autism. The degree of dissociation of 'what the other knows' - to not know that certain beliefs are unreasonable, and unreasonable because you yourself in a different situation would be inclined to discount a claim that has little evidence, but in a situation where the claim comes to represent your own 'selfobject' needs, as Heinz Kohut put it, you prioritize that need over the social dynamic which creates both you and I.

A truer person is a person who respects the facts of how they are generated - that is, their mental states, and where the feelings we feel come from - and, in accepting this, cheerfully comes to accept a way of being which both accepts the responsibility of caring for others, as well as pursuing ones own in complement to the overall goal of human well being with nature.




 
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