IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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(Fonagy, 2001, p.66). In the “Practicing’ subphase, through the acquisition of autonomous walking, the establishment the autonomous ego apparatus in close proximity to the mother follows. This passage represents the line of development that allows the child's interest to move from the mother to inanimate objects, signifying the libidinal investment in the service of the autonomous Ego functioning. The ‘ Rapprochement’ subphase from 15-18 to 24 months brings with it an awareness of separateness, separation anxiety and an increased need to be with the mother (Mahler et al, 1975). The child who was becoming increasingly independent now begins to realize how very small she is in a very large world, which brings with it a loss of the ideal sense of self and the reappearance of a kind of separation anxiety. There is the dawning realization that the mother is actually a separate person who may not be always available, ushering the ‘Rapprochement Crisis’. During the ‘Rapprochement Crisis’, the attitude of the child is affectively ambivalent swinging between a need for clinging onto the mother and a powerful need for separateness. This is the period during which splitting is at its height (Greenberg and Mitchell, 1983). It is also the period during which there are rapidly evolving autonomous ego functions, marked by rapid gains in language and by the appearance of reality testing. Gender differences and gender identity are coming into awareness, interacting with the differentiation process. The optimal emotional availability of the mother, including her acceptance of the child’s ambivalence enable the child to invest the representation of the Self with libidinal energy. The fear of losing the object's love becomes more evident, instead of the fear of losing the object of love. During the ‘Rapprochement crisis’, as the child gradually gives up the illusion of his own greatness, often through dramatic struggles with his mother, he may characteristically use the mother as an extension of the Self, a process that allows the child to temporarily deny the painful awareness of being separated from her. Ultimately, the waning of infantile omnipotence is compensated for by selective identifications with the competent, tolerant, affectionate mother (Blum, 2004). The attainment of ‘ Object Constancy ’ during 24 – 36 months and Self Constancy is the final subphase of Separation-Individuation process and a major developmental milestone. The two principal tasks of this period are the development of a stable concept of the self and a stable concept of the other, and are organized around the co-participants in all the child’s object relationships (Greenberg and Mitchell, 1983). Optimally, the child can now maintain a sense of her own individuality, as well as a sense of the other as an internal, positively cathected presence. She can function separately in the absence of the mother/other, attaining the capacity to more fully understand the separate experience of self and mother, her separate mind and the other’s interests and intentions. Internalizing her mother’s benevolence and regulatory functions, the can now more easily tolerate separations, frustrations, and disappointments. At 36 th month, the maturation of the ego functions, and the libidinal constancy of the object will allow the consolidation of the identity of the Self and the possibility of separateness.


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