Docstoc

Altruism and the Superego Complementary or Conflictual

Document Sample
Altruism and the Superego Complementary or Conflictual Powered By Docstoc
					Huckleberry Finn has just lied to save his friend, Jim, a slave. When Huck is berating
himself, he says:

  They went off, and I got aboard the raft, feeling bad and low, because I knowed very well I had done
  wrong, and I see it warn‟t no use for me to try to learn to do right; a body that don‟t get started right
  when he‟s little, ain‟t got no show—when the pinch comes there ain‟t nothing to back him up and keep
  him to his work, and so he gets beat. Then I thought a minute, and says to myself, hold on,--s‟pose
  you‟d a done right and give Jim up; would you felt better than what you do now? No, says I, I‟d feel
  bad—I‟d feel just the same way I do now. Well, then, says I, what‟s the use you learning to do right,
  when it‟s troublesome to do right and ain‟t no trouble to do wrong, and the wages is just the same? I
  was stuck. I couldn‟t answer that. So I reckoned I wouldn‟t bother no more about it, but after this
  always do whichever come handiest at the time.


In 1895, Mark Twain sketched an introduction for this chapter of his book Huckleberry
Finn, “Small pox & a lie save Jim”, to read in his “morals lecture”: “Next, I should
exploit the proposition that in a crucial moral emergency a sound heart is a safer guide
than an ill-trained conscience. I sh‟d support this doctrine with a chapter from a book of
mine where a sound heart & a deformed conscience come into collision & conscience
suffers defeat. Two persons figure in this chapter: Jim, a middle-aged slave & Huck
Finn, a boy of 14, son of the town drunkard. These two are close friends, bosom friends,
drawn together by community of misfortune…”

A look at Huck Finn‟s dilemma, and his handling of the situation, bring up old and new
questions about the human psyche. Some of the questions have to do with the construct
of the superego—how the superego develops, and what constitutes and promotes a
healthy or unhealthy superego. Other questions involve the concepts of empathy and
altruistic behavior. Although in many writings we see allusions to the capacities of
empathy and altruism, it is only relatively recently that these have begun to be formally
explored.

It is these concepts—the superego, empathy, and altruism, and their interrelationships,
that this paper will address. More specifically, in this paper I purport that human beings
have an innate capacity for altruism, and that this capacity is a biological one which is
awakened in infancy, begins to develop in early childhood, with the emergence of
empathy, and is of special importance in the oedipal period, with the development of the
capacity for triadic relationships.

Before further discussion I think it is important to point out that all of the following rests
on a few basic assumptions, ones that I think are self-evident but that I realize may not be
universally accepted. These assumptions are:

1. Human beings are mammals, subject to evolutionary inheritance.

2. There is individual variation in our capacities for both emotional experience and
cognitive capability, and in the capacity to integrate these, and this variation arises from
both genetic inheritance and individual experience.
3. Much of our development is preprogrammed, allowing for individual genetic
differences, and is also shaped by experience. Writers such as Piaget, Mahler, Stern and
Erikson have differing formulations of developmental processes, but all are in agreement
that development, to the extent that it is not confounded by trauma or other interfering
factors, proceeds through a series of fairly consistent, identifiable stages.

4. In phylogeny as well as in human development, emotions evolve from the simple to
the complex. In human development, our more complex emotions, both conscious and
unconscious, are intertwined with cognitive components, both conscious and
unconscious, and the integration of emotional experience with cognitive understanding is,
in healthy states, an ongoing developmental process in all humans.

It is interesting that in reviewing literature about the concepts of the superego, empathy,
and altruism, they are studied and viewed so separately. Although empathy and altruism
involve concern for one‟s fellow man, not to mention one‟s offspring, the superego, our
putative moral agency, is mostly described in relation to its capacity for regulation of the
actions, self- image, or self-esteem of the self or ego; that is, in taking care of one‟s own
needs.

Another striking element in our body of literature is the separation between the large
body of work concerning observational studies of infants and young children, including
studies of attachment and maternal-infant bonding, and the large body of work on conflict
and aggression. It is as if there are two separate bodies of work, one having primarily to
do with attachment, and another having to do with conflict. We have yet to bridge this
gap.

The two schools of thought collided during the last quarter century, the collision taking
the form of seemingly irreconcilable disputes between classical analysts, or “ego-
psychologists” and “self-psychologists.” It might be useful to look at an important part
of the disagreement between Freudian and Kohutian theory. I think that in doing so we
will see that the original dichotomy is concerned with whether libidinal motivation is
self-interested, altruistic, or a combination of these.

An example of the disagreement to which I refer concerns descriptions of parenting given
by Freud and Kohut. Freud (1914) states that parental investment in one‟s child is born
of narcissism, “The child shall fulfil those wishful dreams of the parents which they
never carried out—the boy shall become a great man and a hero in his father‟s place, and
the girl shall marry a prince as a tardy compensation for her mother. Parental love, which
is so moving and at bottom so childish, is nothing but the parent‟s narcissism born
again….” This is in contrast to Kohut‟s (1982) description of a parent as “Warmly
committed to the next generation, to the son in whose unfolding and growth he joyfully
participates—thus experiencing man‟s deepest and most central joy, that of being a link
in the chain of generations.” (Kriegman, p. 350-52).
At issue is whether all love is, at bottom, self-interested, or whether there exists a love
that is truly altruistic. The question is relevant to our understanding of our motives in
relationships, from the earliest ones, such as the maternal-infant bond, to adult
relationships, and to our understanding of a possible non-neurotic resolution of the
Oedipus complex.

In exploring this issue, or question, I will review some early writings of Freud and
Melanie Klein on libido. Then I will present some older and newer writings about
altruism, including neurobiological findings. Finally, I will discuss some aspects of our
current understanding of superego development, and a way in which the insertion of the
concept of a healthy altruistic/empathic drive might change our understanding.

Over the years, various authors have attempted to understand altruism. Anna Freud
(1946) coined the term “altruistic surrender” to describe a situation in which an
individual, unable to achieve direct gratification of instinctual wishes because of
superego prohibitions, achieved vicarious gratification through a proxy.

A. Freud considered altruistic surrender to be the basis of all altruism, and her
formulation took hold, to the point that altruism was long thought to be a conflict-laden
compromise, or a form of masochism (Simons, 1987, in Seelig, p. 937). Valliant
described altruism as “an adaptive outgrowth of reaction formation”. According to
Valliant, altruism allows the individual to experience pleasure from helping others when
he is neurotically unable to experience pleasure through the fulfillment of his own
desires. As Shapiro and Gabbard state, “There has been a tendency within psychoanalytic
thought to “explain away” altruistic behavior as a defensive strategy designed to deal
with more basic selfish motives.”

Shapiro and Gabbard believe, however, that “there is a substantial body of evidence from
the fields of ethology, infant research, and experimental psychology to support the
existence of an independently motivated altruism that is nondefensive in nature.” Their
thesis is that “self-oriented and altruistic motivations are equal and essential partners in
human evolution and development. It is the optimal balance of these two forces that is
necessary for evolutionary advancement and for psychological health.”

Other cultures have looked at the construct differently. For example, Japanese
psychoanalysts, conceptualize altruism on a continuum, at one end of which are normal
caretakers, who nurture out of love but are able to balance caring for others with the need
to care for themselves, and at the other end of which are caretakers unable to stop caring
for others, whose sense of self is bound up with masochistic surrender. (Seelig, p. 939).

Seelig and Rosof describe five types of altruism:

         Protoaltruism has biological roots and can be observed in animals. In humans, protoaltruism
includes maternal and paternal nurturing and protectiveness. Generative altruism is the nonconflictual
pleasure in fostering the success and/or welfare of another. Conflicted altruism is generatie altruism that is
drawn into conflict, but in which the pleasure and satisfaction of another (a proxy) is actually enjoyed.
Pseudoaltruism originates in conflict and serves as a defensive cloak for underlying sadomasochism
Psychotic altruism is defined as the sometimes bizarre forms of caretaking behavior and associated self-
denial seen in psychotic individuals, and often based on delusion.

Seelig and Rosof consider Anna Freud‟s altruistic surrender to combine features of both
conflict-laden altruism and pseudoaltruism.

A closely related phenomenon to that of altruism is that of empathy. Webster‟s defines
empathy as “the ability to share in another‟s emotions, thoughts, or feelings”, and
altruism as “unselfish concern for the welfare of others.” Until relatively recently,
analysts have been reluctant to talk about empathy, because this “ability” was (and still
is) poorly understood. However, some writers, such as Hans Loewald (date) were brave
enough to state that we use empathy a great deal in our everyday relations with other
people, and believed that our use of empathy as analysts, both consciously and
unconsciously, is indispensable in our work. He stated that the phenomena of empathy
had not been adequately investigated. Some of the confusion about understanding and
defining empathy results from its having many aspects. As Loewald noted, the ability is
conscious and unconscious. There are both cognitive and emotional aspects to it. The
ability may be, to some extent, instinctual.

More recently, our use of empathy as analysts has been more openly discussed, as we
understand that our own feelings can frequently help us to understand what is happening
with our patients, it is now acceptable for an analyst to have feelings in the consulting
room.

Strangely, though, the idea of altruism is still mostly considered to be, as noted above, a
conflicted compromise. We have a cognitive dissonance, because we hold tightly to the
notion that man is a selfish creature, yet have no trouble believing that we are able to
behave unselfishly with our patients.

Decety and Jackson (2004) conflate the two phenomena, empathy and altruism, in
defining empathy. They state that most definitions of empathy involve three central
components: (1) feeling what someone is feeling; (2) knowing what someone is feeling;
(3) having some intent to mitigate that person‟s suffering. (Watt, p. 122) Their inclusion
of the intent to mitigate contains the idea of an unselfish concern.

For the purposes of this paper, I will distinguish between the two concepts, and utilize
Webster: I will define empathy as an ability, conscious and unconscious, with cognitive
and emotional components, and altruism as an unselfish concern, including a desire to
mitigate suffering, with conscious and unconscious components. In addition, I would
make the point that I think altruism is part of libido.

 Hans Loewald writes: “This nonobjective kind of knowledge is called empathy.
Actually, I believe, we use it a great deal in our everyday relations with and
understanding of other people, although we often do not notice it and it has not been
adequately investigated. Therefore it seems more mysterious and unreliable that it is.
Analysts, of course, although not eager to say much about it since it is likely to be called
unscientific, use empathy a great deal in their work. All knowledge has its shortcomings
and pitfalls; traditional objective observation, despite its successes in many fields, falls
short of being adequate when it comes to unconscious mental processes. It distorts, by its
objectifying methodology—inherent in the particular mental processes used in such
observation—the phenomena to be understood. This is not to say that our unconscious
mental processes, operating in empathic understanding, are an unfailing instrument—or
that we know much about its workings. But every analyst knows that it does work many
times and is indispensable.” Loewald, p. 553.

Decety and Jackson (2004) conflate the two phenomenon, empathy and altruism, in
defining empathy. They state that most definitions of empathy involve three central
components: (1) feeling what someone is feeling; (2) knowing what someone is feeling;
(3) having some intent to mitigate that person‟s suffering. ( Watt, p. 122) Their inclusion
of the intent to mitigate contains the idea of an unselfish concern.

For the purposes of this paper, I will differentiate between the
In 1991 Fonagy suggested the term „reflective function‟ to describe a capacity to form a
theory of mind—that is, a developmental acquisition, defined as the ability to take into
account another‟s mental state in understanding and predicting behavior. (Bouchard or
Sandler or Joseph?)

Sandler (Rep World) thinks that the basis for empathy is the momentary fusion of self-
and object representations. “Identification which is the result of momentary fusion of
self-and object representations is, under certain circumstances, a normal process, and the
basis for such phenomena as empathy.”

Although traditional conflict psychology sees altruistic behavior as a recent development
brought into being after increased brain size began to lead to the formation of civilization,
that is, civilization, made possible by increased intelligence, leads to pressure to control
instinctual behavior, resulting in altruism. In contract, evolutionary theory—and
ethological evidence—suggests that it is likely that altruism was an early phylogenetic
development that in turn shaped the rapid development of the “swollen” human brain.
This view reinforces part of the self psychological conception of the human psyche, and
suggests that the traditional psychoanalytic emphasis on guilt may not be sufficient to
explain altruistic behavior fully.

“As a neurologist, Freud‟s original goal was to understand the biological basis of mental
life. As we know, he abandoned his Project for a Scientific Psychology because, given
the tools available in the late nineteenth century, it was simply not possible to develop an
in-depth understanding of neurobiology relevant to psychoanalysis. This has now
changed, because functional neuroimaging is ideally suited for studying the function of
the large-scale neural networks that mediate complex cognitive and emotional functions.”
(p. 6)

Lane and Garfield , in their neurobiological exploration of emotion through functional
neuroimaging, propose a five stage model of emotional development. In their theory,
emotional development progresses in hierarchical levels from the most primitive level,
visceral activation (or body sensation) to action tendencies (also automatic), and then to
increasing awareness of emotions--awareness of a single emotion, blends of emotion, and
blends of blends of emotions. The higher levels of awareness include the capacity to
reflect on one‟s feelings and the supposed feelings of others, and is correlated positively
with the ability to empathize. Lane and Garfield found that lower level of emotional
awareness involve different brain structures than higher ones, and that the involvement of
the higher (cortical) brain structures in more complex emotional processing served to
modulate activation of the more primitive areas. For example, the anterior cingulate
cortex is activated more, and the amygdala activated less, during “emotion-regulating”
conditions of experiments. Land and Garfield found that the anterior cingulate
cortex is activated during all self-reflective activity, not just self-reflection of emotional
activity.


Erikson (1964) was interested in understanding the psychodynamic basis of healthy
adaptation. He used the term generativity to describe the satisfaction gained by mature
adults in creating of contributing to the welfare of future generations. He considered the
group of traits that constitute generativity to be essential to healthy adtulthood. (Seelig,
p. 938) Erikson believed that generativity is an instinctual form of caring that leads to
species survival.

Kriegman makes the point that because altruistic behavior is evident in animals, “we
would expect to see at least the “residue” of such forces in humans since it is unlikely
that homo sapiens would completely drop an adaptive mechanism that was used in our
recent evolutionary history. Thus, we should expect that in the biology of human beings
there is a natural, direct tendency to act altruistically toward one‟s offspring and to a
lesser degree, because of a smaller amount of shared genetic material, to all kin.”

Kriegman, describing the concept of natural selection processes that maximize an
organism‟s “gene pool” rather than personal fitness would favor altruistic behavior, at
least toward one‟s kin.
Kriegman suggests that “it is our primitive biological core that gives rise to such
emotional experiences as the pleasure of empathic union with another, and the glow of
prideful joy in watching one‟s children take steps forward in their development.” P. 355.



 Freud, in his discussing reasons for psychogenic impotence in men, stated (Yovell, p.
129, citing Eagle citing Freud); Two currents whose union is necessary to ensure a
completely normal attitude in love…..may be distinguished at the affectionate and the
sensual current. The affectionate current is the older of the two. It springs from the
earliest years of childhood; it is formed on the basis of the interests of the self-
preservative instinct and is directed to the members of the family and those who look
after the child. From the very beginning it carries along with it contributions [italics
mine] from the sexual instincts…..We learn in this way that the sexual instincts find their
first objects by attaching themselves to the valuations made by the ego-
instincts…[italics mine].{Freud, 1912D, pp. 180-181} Eagle states (in Yovell, p. 129),
that in this passage, Freud is proposing that the infant‟s attachment to the caregiver is
based on a system that predates and that, therefore, is initially independent of infantile
sexuality. That system, characterized by the predominance of the “affectionate current,”
is “formed on the basis of the interests of the self-preservative instinct”, a perspective
compatible with Bowlby‟s emphasis on the evolutionary survival function of the
attachment system. (Eagle, 2007, in Yovell, p. 129)


Watt (p.122) also notes that empathy shares a fundamental border with emotion
identification and also with emergent higher cognitive processes involved in perspective
taking, theory of mind, and many aspects of social cognition.

Watt proposes several core hypotheses, though he acknowledges that they are not
universally accepted:

1. Based on the phenomenon of nurturance and maternal care, most mammals
presumably have some primitive empathic capacities.

2. Empathy appears phylogenetically coincident with the social signaling functions of
emotion and the formation of social bonds.

3. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suspect that primitive empathic ability developed
concomitant with attachment—that evolution in some sense carved the two processes
jointly, with social bonding being critically enhanced by the ability to perceive, and
relieve, the distress of a conspecific.

4. The more complex phenomenon of human empathy presumably reflects a “cognized
extension” of this mammalian prototype state of nurturing behavior toward the young,
especially the distressed young, but these critical cognitive extensions potentially allow
for increasing appreciation of the internal spaces of others, and the creation and extensive
development of a theory of mind and perspective taking in human ontogenesis.

Watt (p. 121) notes that “even complex, highly cognized human emotions never lose their
intrinsic grounding to these emotional primes [prototypes of central organizing
paradigms—confrontation with a predator or powerful rival (fear), assault, or other
threats to safety, free pursuit, territory or other resources (anger), the loss of mates,
offspring and conspecifics (separation distress), and the comforts and joys of sex,
attachment, and play]

Watt and others have talked about the notion of a “Seeking System” centered in the
ventral lateral tegmental area, a projection of neurons from the hypothalamus to the
centers of emotion and cognition, which is a special class of emotional systems. If this
system is disrupted, all prototype emotional states disappear, as does all motivated
behavior. This system can further be broken down into two clusters of prototype
emotions—the “organism Defense Cluster”—FEAR, RAGE, and DISGUST and a
“Social Connection Cluster”—LUST, PLAY/AFFECTION, NURTURANCE, and
SEPARATION DISTRESS.

Numerous studies have demonstrated altruistic behavior in animals.

In a study in which subjects were asked to judge whether personality traits described
them, or whether a trait was generally desirable, different areas of the brain were
activated. (Watt, p. 125)

Hans Loewald writes: “This nonobjective kind of knowledge is called empathy.
Actually, I believe, we use it a great deal in our everyday relations with and
understanding of other people, although we often do not notice it and it has not been
adequately investigated. Therefore it seems more mysterious and unreliable that it is.
Analysts, of course, although not eager to say much about it since it is likely to be called
unscientific, use empathy a great deal in their work. All knowledge has its shortcomings
and pitfalls; traditional objective observation, despite its successes in many fields, falls
short of being adequate when it comes to unconscious mental processes. It distorts, by its
objectifying methodology—inherent in the particular mental processes used in such
observation—the phenomena to be understood. This is not to say that our unconscious
mental processes, operating in empathic understanding, are an unfailing instrument—or
that we know much about its workings. But every analyst knows that it does work many
times and is indispensable.” Loewald, p. 553.


As we grow and develop, it is a difficult and complex task to integrate our evolutionary
emotional inheritance with our evolutionary cognitive capacities. In such a complex
endeavor, it is not surprising that development can frequently go awry. What we see in
neurosis, which some (Shapiro, Horney) have described as a self-alienating process, is
cognition and emotion out of synch, in terms of a strict and dysfunctional superego.

Kriegman points out, in his comparison of the Freud‟s and Kohut‟s views of parental
love, that Freud‟s model of an antagonist ego fighting to suppress and repress infantile
narcissism only toallow its expression when one is a parent, as the motivational source of
parental love, is not evolutionarily feasible, because it is only possible in a species with a
highly developed neocortex that has been overlaid on the hungering, instinctual, tension-
reducing brain. Thus, it cannot provide us with a model for parental investment in other
species.

Kriegman notes, “those activities that are biologically necessary for the minimally
necessary inclusive fitness of almost all living things, for example, parental care, must
spring from the deepest most profound and biologically ancient motivational sources.”

He states, “We must not only face the evolutionary truth when it is unpleasant, that is,
when it argues for basic selfish, animalistic aspects of the human psyche. We must also
face the hard evolutionary truth when it is pleasant, that is, when it argues that humans—
like our animal relatives—are innately loving, caring, and nurturing”. Kriegman and
Knight in Kriegman, p. 353).

Kriegman suggests that it is our primitive biological core that gives rise to such emotional
experiences as the pleasure of empathic union with another, and the glow of prideful joy
in watching one‟s children take steps forward in their development. (p. 355). This
capacity, evident in parenting, is the same capacity that is activated in empathic feelings
and altruistic acts that involve unrelated others.

Although traditional conflict psychology sees altruistic behavior as a recent development
brought into being after increased brain size began to lead to the formation of civilization,
that is, civilization, made possible by increased intelligence, leads to pressure to control
instinctual behavior, resulting in altruism. In contract, evolutionary theory—and
ethological evidence—suggests that it is likely that altruism was an early phylogenetic
development that in turn shaped the rapid development of the “swollen” human brain.
This view reinforces part of the self psychological conception of the human psyche, and
suggests that the traditional psychoanalytic emphasis on guilt may not be sufficient to
explain altruistic behavior fully.

Neurobiological evidence for altruism, capacity for empathy

Lane and Garfield

“As a neurologist, Freud‟s original goal was to understand the biological basis of mental
life. As we know, he abandoned his Project for a Scientific Psychology because, given
the tools available in the late nineteenth century, it was simply not possible to develop an
in-depth understanding of neurobiology relevant to psychoanalysis. This has now
changed, because functional neuroimaging is ideally suited for studying the function of
the large-scale neural networks that mediate complex cognitive and emotional functions.”
(p. 6)
I think that a theory of empathy must integrate the development of psychic and cognitive
structure with a corresponding development of emotion or affect. Lane and Garfield,
noted that a general psychoanalytic theory of emotional development does not exist.
They note that object relations theorists have recognized an association between the
structure of object representation and the structure of emotion or affect, and that, more
recently, Blanck and Blanck, ego psychologists, postulated a developmental line of
progressive differentiation of affects in association with progressive maturation of ego
functions. Lane and Garfield, in their neurobiological exploration of emotion through
functional neuroimaging,

Lane and Garfield , in their neurobiological exploration of emotion through functional
neuroimaging, propose a five stage model of emotional development. In their theory,
emotional development progresses in hierarchical levels from the most primitive level,
visceral activation (or body sensation) to action tendencies (also automatic), and then to
increasing awareness of emotions--awareness of a single emotion, blends of emotion, and
blends of blends of emotions. The higher levels of awareness include the capacity to
reflect on one‟s feelings and the supposed feelings of others, and is correlated positively
with the ability to empathize. Lane and Garfield found that lower level of emotional
awareness involve different brain structures than higher ones, and that the involvement of
the higher (cortical) brain structures in more complex emotional processing served to
modulate activation of the more primitive areas. For example, the anterior cingulate
cortex is activated more, and the amygdala activated less, during “emotion-regulating”
conditions of experiments. Land and Garfield found that the anterior cingulate
cortex is activated during all self-reflective activity, not just self-reflection of emotional
activity.


Grotstein, p. 268 “template of superego may originate in inherent, a priori structure,
particularly in R cerebral hemisphere (quarterly)

Douglas Watt, in his paper, “Toward a Neuroscience of Empathy: Integrating Affective
and Cognitive Perspectives”, notes that we are beginning to study two critical problems
in neuroscience, Chalmers‟(1997) “hard problem” of consciousness and the overlapping
problem of the neuroscience of emotion. Watt describes emotion as the “signature of
value and value operators in the mind/brain”, and states the likelihood that “emotional
mechanisms, in some fashion, must inform virtually any form of directed attention,
underwriting the selectivity of attentional functions, given the critical importance of
emotion for determining salience.”

Literature on neuroscience and emotion shows that there is a basic activation system, a
pathway from the ….the activation of which is necessary for all emotion and action.
Within this system, seems to sort itself into two primary systems,

Watt and others have noted that these emotion systems are older and develop sooner,
both ontogenically and phylogenically, than cognitive systems. Moreover, although
cognitive components can modify these basic schemata, they are still present.

The basic schemata include attachment processes as well as “fight or flight” processes,
and these two processes are at odds with each other.


Bowlby‟s attachment theory and the research that it has inspired have established the
existence of an independent instinctual/emotional system that controls the infant‟s
affectionate and essential tie with its mother.

Milch defines conscience from an intersubjective systems perspective: “conscience, we
might say, is a personal sense of our relatedness to worlds other than and larger than our
own—a relatedness that requires us to refrain from doing harm to those worlds and, in
some instances, to act to prevent such harm. These worlds may be primarily human but
may also include other species or the planet as a whole.”
In reading the literature about the neuroscience of emotion, there seems to be agreement
that cognition can regulate and inform emotion.

Watt identifies emotion, attention, and behavior as large and critically interactive
domains within consciousness.
Watt states that human empathy probably reflects variable admixtures of more primitive
affective resonance mechanisms, melded with developmentally later-arriving theory of
mind and perspective taking. He believes that emotional mechanisms must inform any
model of directed attention, underwriting the selectivity of attentional functions, given
the critical importance of emotion for determining salience.

Exposition of all relevant neuroscience would be of considerable length and is beyond the
scope of this paper. I will present only a few salient findings, although this presentation
does not do justice to the body of recent work on the subject.

In a scientific study quoted in a recent Newsweek (May 9,2009), Shaver and Mikulincer
found that people who are emotionally secure and feel safe and protected tend to show
the greatest empathy for strangers and to act altruistically and compassionately. People
who are anxious about their own worth and competence, who avoid close relationships,
or are clingy in those relationships that they have, tend to be less altruistic and less
generous.

Also in Newsweek (May 9, 2009) research by psychologist Richard Davidson found that
monks who practice Buddhist compassion meditation have increased activity in the
regions involved in perspective taking and empathy, compared to controls, when they
were shown pictures of suffering children.

One of the small percentage of people who refused to administer increasingly stronger
shocks to people in the famous Milgram experiments of the 1960‟s reported on reasons
he refused. He attributed his refusal to being brought up in a family that was “steeped in
a class-struggle view of society, [which] taught me that authorities would often have a
different view of right and wrong than mine,” and to his Army training when “we were
told that soldiers had a right to refuse illegal orders.” (Newsweek)



Recent neurobiological discoveries, specifically those concerning the pathology of
autism, demonstrate biological correlates of empathy.

Is seems logical to assume that the capacity for empathy is multi-determined, with
genetic predisposition, early experience, and subsequent shaping all playing a role.

According to Gabbard and Shapiro, empathy is necessary but not sufficient for acts of
altruism. Perhaps the capacity to perceive another‟s emotional state is a separate one
than the emotional experience of love for another.
From a psychoanalytic perspective, the emergence of the superego represents a part of the
development and refining of higher order learning and reasoning. This process involves
the prefrontal cortices. The birth of the superego is an important junction in the
developmental sequence that culminates in the emergence of adult romantic love.
(Yovell, p. 124)

Bowlby emphasized that the attachment system was not dependent on drive reduction,
and was not mediated through infantile sexuality. (Yovell, p. 129)

Oxytocin and vasopressin in pair bonding in the prarie vole (Yovell, p. 136)

Bowlby‟s attachment theory and the research that it has inspired have established the
existence of an independent instinctual/emotional system that controls the infant‟s
affectionate and essential tie with its mother.

Rather than one libininal drive, Bowlby stated that there were multiple behavioral and
motivational systems, such as attachment, care giving, exploration, sexuality,
….(Diamond & Blatt in Yovell, p.131)

Yovell, in his attempt to explicate mechanisms involved in romantic love, finds
behavioral and neurobiological differences between romantic love and monogamous
attachment and monogamous parenting behavior in mammals. More specifically, sexual
behaviors are mediated through one neural pathway, which involves the dopaminergic
system, while attachment and long term bonding behaviors are mediated through
oxytocin and vasopressin pathways. (Yovell, p. 135)

However, Freud, in his second drive theory in 1938, incorporated motivations in the
category of “ego-instincts”, including the “affectionate current”, all within the one drive,
Eros, the Life drive, or libido.

According to Yovell, it is now widely accepted within psychoanalysis that sexuality and
attachment are the products of two different psychobiological instinctual/emotional
command systems—that is, that they represent the conscious and behavioral
manifestations of the action of two different drives or instincts. (p. 139)


There is now overwhelming evidence (Yovell, p. 139) (reviewed by Mikulincer &
Shaver, 2007) that the attachment system and the sexual system are both essential
components of adult romantic love.


They appear to be roughly parallel inh terms of their hierarchical organization, and there
is considerable evidence that patterns of attachment that characterize the infant‟s tie to his
mother will continue to shape his relationships with the objects of his romantic love as an
adult.
Likewise, there is a considerable body of neurobiological evidence that the sexual and
attachment systems are both active in romantic love.

They look like two independent, complementary, and at times partially antagonistic
instinctual/emotional systems and that they both drive romantic love.
 (p. 401) “One the one hand, [psychoanalysis] seems to stand and fall with the
proposition that the emergence of a relatively autonomous individual is the culmination
of human development.”… “on the other hand, owing in part to analytic research, there
is a growing awareness of the force and validity of another striving, that for unity,
symbiosis, fusion, merging, or identification—whatever name we wish to give to theis
sense of and longing for nonseparateness and undifferentiation.”….The more we
understand about primitive mentality, which constitutes a deep layer of advanced
mentality, the harder it becomes to escape the idea that its implicit sense of and quest for
irrational nondifferentiation of subject and object contains a truth of its own…”

(p. 403): “identification and empathy, where subject-object boundaries are temporarily
suspended or inoperative, play a significant part in everyday interpersonal relations, not
to mention the psychoanalyst‟s and psychotherapist‟s daily working life.”




It is probably true that strong insistence of our separateness actually impairs our capacity
to empathize. In the tragedies of genocide, focus on differences combined with ideas
about superiority block our empathic feelings of shared humanity. The same could be
said for inhumane treatment of animals.



Ability to conceptualize a triadic relation is a supreme cognitive accomplishment of
humans, and the superimposing of that cognitive accomplishment with the evolutionary
inheritance of the emotion of empathy is the basis of human altruistic endeavors.

One of the possible roadblocks to a fuller understanding of empathy is the extent to
which we as analysts value, in fact almost worship, our individuation. In empathy, we
must identify with the other affectively—there is a regressive aspect to it, while at the
same time being fully aware that the other is a totally separate person. It is interesting
that this capacity is analogous to the capacity for „regression in the service of the ego‟,
i.e. losing oneself in one‟s work, in sex, etc., requires a solid, separate ego structure. In
our strong insistence of a separate identity, and our reluctance to explore the regressive
aspects of empathy, may be a manifestation of our sense of needing to maintain our hard-
won individuation.

Erikson
In Erikson‟s Eight Ages of Man, the oedipal period is termed the stage of “initiative vs.
guilt”, the danger being guilt over goals contemplated. According to Erikson, “Here the
most fateful split and transformation in the emotional powerhouse occurs, a split between
potential human glory and potential total destruction. For here the child becomes forever
divided in himself. The instince fragments which before had enhanced the growth of his
infantile body and mind now become divided into an infantile set which perpetuates the
exuberance of growth potentials, and a parental set which supports and increases self-
observation, self-guidance, and self-punishment.”

Erikson also says of this stage, “the child is at no time more ready to learn quickly and
avidly, to become bigger in the sense of sharing obligation and performance that during
this period of his development. He is eager and able to make things cooperatively, to
combine with other children for the purpose of constructing and planning, and he is
willing to profit from teachers and to emulate ideal prototypes. He remains, of course,
identified with the parent of the same sex, but for the present he looks for opportunities
where work-identification seems to promise a field of initiative without too much
infantile conflict or oedipal guilt and a more realistic identification based on a spirit of
equality experienced in doing things together.”

In the stage of “intimacy vs. isolation”, body and ego must not be masters of the organ
modes and of the nuclear conflicts, in order to be able to face the fear of ego loss in
situations which call for self-abandon: in the solidarity of close affiliations, in orgasms
and sexual unions, in close friendships and in physical combat, in experiences of
inspiration by teachers and of intuition from the recesses of the self. The avoidance of
such experiences because of a fear of ego loss may lead to a deep sense of isolation and
consequent self-absorption.” (p. 264)

In generativity vs. stagnation, “Generativity, then is primarily the concern is establishing
and guiding the next generation, although there are individuals who, through misfortune
or because of special and genuine gifts in other directions, do not apply this drive to their
own offspring. And indeed, the concept generativity is meant to include such more
popular synonyms as productivity and creativity, which, however, cannot replace it.”

“It has taken psychoanalysis some time to realize that the ability to lose oneself in the
meeting of bodies and minds leads to a gradual expansion of ego-interests and to a
libidinal investment in that which is being generated.” (p. 267)

Finally, in the stage “ “ego integrity vs. despair”, Erikson writes, “only in him who in
some way has taken care of things and people and has adapted himself to the triumphs
and disappointments adherent to being, the originator of others or the generator of
products and ideas—only in him may gradually ripen the fruit of these seven
stages…[Ego integrity] is a the ego‟s accrued assurance of its proclivity for order and
meaning. It is a post-narcissistic love of the human ego—not of the self—as an
experience which conveys some world order and spiritual sense, no matter how dearly
paid for. …. Although aware of the relativity of all the various life styles which have
given meaning to human striving, the possessor of integrity is ready to defend the dignity
of his own life style against all physical and economic threats. For he knows that an
individual life is the accidental coincidence of but one life cycle with but one segment of
history; and that for him all human integrity stands of falls with the one style of integrity
of which he partakes. The style of integrity developed by his culture or civilization thus
becomes the “patrimony of his soul,”….In such final consolidation, death loses its sting.”
(p. 268)


Lane and Schwartz proposed that an individual‟s ability to recognize and describe
emotion in others, called emotional awareness, is a cognitive skill that undergoes a
developmental process similar to that which Piaget described for cognition in general.

Implications for psychoanalysis, as well as somewhat of a reconciliation of
psychoanalytic principles with cognitive-behavioral ones, is in the following description
of therapeutic change through insight
put forth by lane and Garfield (p. 21): “changing [unconscious ways of relating and
responding] through insight involves interrupting the automatic behavioural enactment,
consciously experiencing the associated underlying emotions, consciously extracting the
information inherent in the emotional response, reappraising the situation and pattern,
altering behaviour, and extablishing new procedures until they become automatic.” They
further note, however, that the old ways of relating don‟t go away, but instead are
modulated by higher order functioning, but can return in the well known phenomenon of
regression.




Melanie Klein found that “feelings of guilt in relation to the loved father were an integral
element of the Oedipus complex and vitally influenced its outcome. The feeling that his
mother too is endangered by the son‟s rivalry with the father, and that the father‟s death
would be an irreparable loss to her, contributes to the strength of the boy‟s sense of guilt
and hence to the repression of his Oedipus desires.”p. 389 (1945)

Klein states, “In my experience the Oedipus situation loses in power not only because the
boy is afraid of the destruction of his genital by a revengeful father, but also because he is
driven by feelings of love and guilt to preserve his father as an internal and external
figure.” P. 389 (1945)

The relative absence of a concept of other-interested motivation is striking in the
psychoanalytic literature. It is accepted that all human motivation is, at bottom, self-
interested.
For example, C. Josephs (1989): “in classical psychoanalysis, the superego is not only
the heir to the Oedipus complex but is also the heir to the wish for narcissistic perfection.
Fenichel stated: “Narcissistic and sexual needs become differentiated; sexual needs
develop in relationship to objects, narcissistic ones more in the relationship between ego
and superego”. In Charles Hanly‟s (1984) exploration of “ego ideal and ideal ego”,
which deals with superego functioning, he states, “An individual may be honest in his
dealings with others because he fears punishment by others (the motive of self-interest or
egoism), because he fears punishment by his own guilt (the moral motive or superego
prohibition), or because he wishes to be and to be seen to be an honest person (the
narcissistic motive or ego ideal).” That an individual may be able to transcend his/her
own self-interest, (in whatever form the self-interest may be), and that an other-oriented
motive can be at least part of what drives behavior, is not considered.

The idea of the superego as a self-interested structure originated, of course, with Freud.
In the classical formulation, the child struggles with his libidinal (sexual) desire for the
opposite sex parent, projects his own aggression onto the opposite sex parent, and out of
his castration fear, (as well as fear of loss of love), settles for identification with that
parent, and represses/renounces his love. At this time, according to classical
psychoanalytic theory, the superego is formed as a construct, standing in for the imagined
parent. As Roy Schafer puts it, “The superego takes over the function of the parent.”
(check quote)

Freud quote.

Kohut, of course, took issue with Freud‟s conception of our life force as totally self-
interested. (kohut quote) Given all evidence for an altruistic instinct in other mammals,
_ makes the point that it is unlikely that humans would have evolved out of this altruistic
instinct only to reclaim the same behavior as a reaction formation against aggressive
impulses.

The idea of an altruistic drive makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. As we are
dependent of others, and on other species, for our survival, behaviors that promote
success of other organisms will ultimately benefit us. Also, behaviors that allow us to
win, at the expense of others, benefit us. The key is a balance between self-serving and
other-serving behaviors.




Schafer, (date) in his paper, The Loving and Beloved Superego, conceives of the
superego as an internalization of the parental function. He describes the loving and
beloved aspect of the superego as representing “the loved and admired oedipal and
preoedipal parents who provide love, protection, comfort, and guidance, who embody
and transmit certain ideals and moral structures more or less representative of their
society, and who, even in their punishing activities, provide needed expressions of
parental care, contact, and love.”


Arlow suggests that “the superego continues to develop past the phase immediately
following the resolution of the Oedipus comples. The process of internalizaing the
environmental prohibitions and rewards and the consolidations of values, ideas, and
morality, it would seem is a continuous one, with all phases of development contributing
their influence.” (Arlow, p. 378)



I suggest that the Freudian resolution of the Oedipus complex, which incorporates the
paradigm of the castration complex, is not a normal or healthy resolution, but a resolution
in which development can and frequently does, to varying degrees, go awry.

What is not generally considered on the oedipal resolution is the child‟s love for the
parents, and the child‟s developing capacity for triadic love. It is this capacity that is
likely to be part of a healthy resolution to the complex. In fact, the capacity for triadic
love and the capacity for empathy, which are related, are probably at the root of altruistic
feelings and behaviors.

Freud developed his theories to understand the development of neurosis. Not enough
attention has been devoted to an understanding of normal development. We have yet to
bridge the gaps between observational studies of human infants (Mahler, Stern), and
theoretical understanding of neurotic and borderline pathology. Also, there is a gap
between attachment theory, as in Bowlby, and

The process of superego formation is one of projection (of the child‟s aggression) onto
the parent, followed by internalization of/identification with the projected image. If we
accept this generally accepted idea of the process of superego formation, and change only
the content of what is projected and internalized, and if we allow that a child has a
capacity for triadic love, we can understand the projection and internalization of this
capacity, and conceive of how a child can internalize permission to take pleasure in
relationships and pursuits that are apart from the parents. The child, and later, the adult,
is allowed his/her own thoughts and pursuits.

The capacity for a triadic relation is also important in resolving internal conflict. We all
understand the importance of an observing ego in our treatment. As Freud has noted, the
ego “mediates between the id and the superego.” This involves a triad. If a person is
unable to create a distance between these entities,

We can see that this idea has a great deal to do with the ability to separate from the
parents. In fact, Hans Loewald conceives of the oedipal period as a time of separation.

Classical psychoanalytic theory focuses on how we, in neurosis, get away from our true
feelings and thoughts, because of pain or guilt. Recovery comes through understanding
and acceptance of what was and what was not, in our early experience. The self-
psychological approach goes further in that it attempts to repair what was and what was
not. Through neuroimaging, it may some day be possible to resolve the question of
whether repair of such early damage is possible later in life.
At any rate, delineating the damage and correlating the psychological with the
neurobiological is increasingly more important. We cannot afford to cling to theories that
are in conflict with what we are learning about the brain, and we must use our
psychoanalytic knowledge of development to give a context to neurobiological
discoveries.

The idea of empathy and altruism make sense from an evolutionary and observational
standpoint.
 The way that this makes sense is if we understand the classical concept of the formation
of the superego as a neurotic structure, and that there is a normal counterpart to that
neurotic structure, and it involves an innate sense of “the right thing” and that innate
sense contains the impulse or instinct of altruism.

The healthy resolution of the Oedipus complex is a triumph of object love—and that part
of object love that takes pleasure in the other‟s happiness, over narcissistic (self-
interested) object love, which is really a form of narcissistic libido. To the degree that the
resolution of the Oedipus comes out of castration fear, or out of fear of loss of love, that
resolution is a neurotic one.

Throughout the analytic literature are various conceptions of the superego that are
sometimes neurotic and sometimes healthy. Freud described the superego as a new
structure that forms during the oedipal period. It certainly seems true that the oedipal
period is a critical time for condensation of a structure such as the superego. What is not
It seems though, that this structure contains the capacity for loving as well as aggressive
aspects.

We have a biological capacity for concern and empathy which is activated early in
infancy, and continues to develop throughout life. This capacity is evidenced in a
different manner depending upon the stage of development. The oedipal period, and
oedipal resolution is a watershed for recognition of the course this capacity.

Seen in this light, it is clear that the oedipal period is a critical time for formation of
autonomy, self responsibility, as well as reworking and restructuring object ties and
creating room for new ones. One aspect of this new structuring is the capacity for triadic
relationships. This aspect is both an outcome of prior experience and a prerequisite for
the capacity for autonomy and empathy in the future.

Perhaps our notion of development of the superego out of the Oedipus complex can be
expanded to be thought of as a paradigm of development of conscience. In as much as
the child internalizes/identifies with a harsh, feared parent, the superego will be a fear-
based, neurotic structure, but to the extent that the child feels adequately loved, and has
achieved a capacity for triadic relationship and a triadic (unselfish) love, the superego
will be softer and more compassionate. In a sense, the child loves the parent both self-
interestedly and unselfishly. To the extent the child experiences the parent as generous
and unselfish, or can construct an internal image of a generous, unselfish parent, his
superego will tend to be that way, and he will have the capacity for unselfish (altruistic)
love towards external objects as well as a self love.

Our psychology has clearly identified the etiology of anxiety, i.e. neuroses—
disintegration anxiety, i.e., fear of loss of self, fear of loss of the object, fear of loss of the
object‟s love, and fear of loss of the superego‟s love. These fears, of course, are at the
root of all neuroses. Since we treat neuroses, it is natural that these concepts have been
explored so fully.


What has not been explored as fully, however, is the healthy counterpart to all of these
fears. It is not right for our psychology to define neurosis as pathology, and then to
define health as a defense against that pathology. If we say that the natural resolution of
the Oedipus Complex is the castration complex, then we say that the castration complex
is normal. We are then in the position of having to explain future behavior/feelings as a
defense against castration. We could explore other basic fears in the same way.


There is no doubt that the genesis of neurosis lies in the basic fears listed above. It also is
perhaps true that much of our superego may be fear based. But it does seem to me that
the fear-based part of our superego is the essence of neurosis, and that the capacity to
modify that fear-based part is a healthy function.

Perhaps we can look to the Oedipus Complex as a paradigm, as a critical period at which
time it becomes particularly clear whether, or to what extent, an individual is in the
process of becoming neurotic. The resolution of the Complex can be primarily out of
fear, or primarily out of love—not love in the sense of sexual longing, which is self-
interested, but love in the sense of pleasure in another‟s happiness, an altruistic
phenomenon. We know that the sense of empathy develops around the time of the
Oedipal period. We also know the importance of this period in the development of the
capacity for triadic relationships. In a triadic relationship, one is able to accept that loved
objects have relationships with others. It is not frequently acknowledged in our field that
a child can and often does take pleasure in the love of his parents for each other. If we do
acknowledge that this is the case, might it not follow that this can be another path toward
resolution of the Oedipus Complex—the child‟s happiness in his parents‟ togetherness.
Classical psychoanalysis might argue that this happiness is a reaction formation. If it is,
the motivation for the resolution is out of fear, and we are again in the position of
defining neurosis as the normal way.



Erdely (In Milch) in 1998 concluded that the superego—including the ideological
structures contained within in—contributes to a process whereby the self represses and
debilitates its own perceptions and sensory experience. The superego then prevents the
perception of reality and replaces it with ideological demands that resemble the
symptoms of an illness.
Descriptions of the superego as self-interested structure


What we have are competing motives: dyadic ones, including the wish to be loved by the
mother and father, in a dyadic relation, the wish to vanquish the rival or competing
parent, and triadic ones, including the desire for the parents to be happy together apart
from the child, and the wish to be happy, engaged with others apart from the parents, or
in pursuits apart from the parents, without hurting the parents.

That these objectives require a delicate balance, and that the requirements for this
balancing act are never completely or permanently achieved, should not keep us from
acknowledging their existence and taking these possibilities into account in our practice.

The requirements are the achievement of an adequate separation from primary caregivers,
a stable sense of self, (or a strong ego, in ego-psychology terms), a sense of being loved
enough,

Freud’s original idea—mediating between demands of self and of society
Lansky (quarterly), p. 164: “incompatible ideas” lead to repression, “censorship”
Freud’s idea of development of superego

Superego as a neurotic (fear-based structure)

Superego as wonderful counselor

Fabricus (quarterly) p. 312: “feelings of guilt tell us that we have hurt someone and
cause us both to avoid revenge and to render compensation”

Wurmser (quarterly) p. 197: “emotional reaction and intuition of each individual that
jumpstart the moral process”

p. 197: “as a basis for a “normal” superego” identification with the other‟s pain seems to
be at least as important as introjection of the other‟s approval and disapproval”

Alternative idea about development of superego
In his writings on an aspect of the Oedipus complex, Loewald described guilt over
autonomy: “In the oedipal struggle between the generations, the descendant‟s assuming
or asserting responsibility and authority that belonged to the ascendants arouses guilt in
the descendant (although not only guilt). It looks as if opponents are required with whom
the drama of gaining power, authority, autonomy, and the distribution of guilt can be
played out.”….. “In considering this [mastering of the Oedipus complex] from the
particular angle I wish to emphasize, it is no exaggeration to say that the assumption of
responsibility for one‟s own life and its conduct is in psychic reality tantamount to the
murder of the parents, to the crime of parricide, and involves dealing with the guilt
incurred thereby.” (p. 389)
“In an important sense, by evolving our own autonomy, our own superego, and by
engaging in non-incestuous object relations, we are killing our parents. We are usurping
their power, their competence, their responsibility for us, and we are abnegating, rejecting
them as libidinal objects. In short, we destroy them in regard to some of their qualities
hitherto most vital to us. Parents resist as well as promote such destruction no less
ambivalently than children carry it out. What will be left if things go well, is tenderness,
mutual trust, and respect, the signs of equality. This depends, more than on anything
else, on the predominant form of mastery of the Oedipus complex.” (p. 390)

Loewald discussed the oedipal conflict as having to do not only with conflict over
libidinal object choice, but a larger conflict having to do with autonomy.

Loewald notes that punishment does not work in absolving one of a sense of guilt. More
punishment is always needed. There is a difference between punishment and atonement.

“Responsibility to oneself, within the context of authoritative norms consciously and
unconsciously accepted or assimilated from parental and societal sources, is the essence
of superego as internal agency.” (p. 392)

The paradox is: Self-responsibility, involving parricide in psychic reality and in
symbolic form…..is, from the viewpoint of received morality, a crime. But it is not only
a crime of which humans inevitably become guilty in the process of emancipating
individuation…self responsibility at the same time is the restitutive atonement for that
crime.” To Loewald, responsible autonomy is our atonement for choosing autonomy:
“The self, in its autonomy, is an atonement structure, a structure of reconciliation, and as
such a supreme achievement.”

(p. 404): the intermediate nature of incestuous relations, intermediate between
identification and object cathexis, throws additional light on its centrality.” …

“We are reminded that the oedipal attachments, struggles, and conflicts must also be
understood as new versions of the basic union-individuation dilemma. The superego, as
the culmination of individual psychic structure formation, represents something ultimate
in the basic separation-individuation process.”


Melanie Klein’s idea of envy

Winnicot idea about concern

Superego development gone awry

Ideas about altruism—old and new, incl Erikson
Further, it seems that ontogenetically, as a species, we are at a watershed time that may
be conceptualized from a Kleinian or a Freudian perspective.


Singer et al. (in Watt, p. 125) found that

As we grow and develop, it is a difficult and complex task to integrate our evolutionary
emotional inheritance with our evolutionary cognitive capacities. In such a complex
endeavor, it is not surprising that development can frequently go awry. What we see in
neurosis, which some (Shapiro, Horney) have described as a self-alienating process, is
cognition and emotion out of synch, in terms of a strict and dysfunctional superego.

Kriegman points out, in his comparison of the Freud‟s and Kohut‟s views of parental
love, that Freud‟s model of an antagonist ego fighting to suppress and repress infantile
narcissism only 6to allow its expression when one is a parent, as the motivational source
of parental love, is not evolutionarily feasible, because it is only possible in a species
with a highly developed neocortex that has been overlaid on the hungering, instinctual,
tension-reducing brain. Thus, it cannot provide us with a model for parental investment
in other species.

Kriegman notes, “those activities that are biologically necessary for the minimally
necessary inclusive fitness of almost all living things, for example, parental care, must
spring from the deepest most profound and biologically ancient motivational sources.”

He states, “We must not only face the evolutionary truth when it is unpleasant, that is,
when it argues for basic selfish, animalistic aspects of the human psyche. We must also
face the hard evolutionary truth when it is pleasant, that is, when it argues that humans—
like our animal relatives—are innately loving, caring, and nurturing”. Kriegman and
Knight in Kriegman, p. 353).

Kriegman suggests that it is our primitive biological core that gives rise to such emotional
experiences as the pleasure of empathic union with another, and the glow of prideful joy
in watching one‟s children take steps forward in their development. (p. 355). This
capacity, evident in parenting, is the same capacity that is activated in empathic feelings
and altruistic acts that involve unrelated others.

Attachment has something to do with empathy.

Sexual love is different, neuroanatomically, than maternal love.

In reading the literature about the neuroscience of emotion, there seems to be agreement
that cognition can regulate and inform emotion.

Empathy related to remorse

Loewald’s idea of remorse
It is interesting that the concept of separation is so predominant in Loewald‟s theory of
the superego, including the idea that one must atone for being separate. The concept of
separation is critical in empathy, too. In empathy, the knowledge of separateness
combines with the image of another‟s feelings. In a triadic relation, the subject allows
the object to be separate, to have separate thoughts, and separate loves.
Huck Finn-Remorse
Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems that human empathy and altruism are capacities or schemata that
are products of both evolution and our individual‟s development. As individuals, we are
wired for both envy and compassion. Our early experiences and constitutional factors
determine which of these schemata predominate in our lives. Importantly, the oedipal
stage and the manner of oedipal resolution is a watershed as to our ability to live our lives
compassionately or self-absorbedly. If the resolution is fear-based, as in the classical
formulation of the castration complex, neurotic development will predominate, with less
capacity for reflection as well as empathy. On the other hand, if the resolution is largely
mediated through a capacity for triadic love, and for true remorse, both emotional and
cognitive development will contain this element.

Also need to separate from oneself. Need to talk to superego. Need to have separation.

Both separation and love are needed.

It is important to realize that the capacity to empathize contains within it the capacity to
appreciate separateness. If separation has not occurred, feelings for others can
overwhelm one and inhibit action or thinking. On the other hand, if a superego is fear-
based, that fear can inhibit feelings of compassion.

The achievement of separateness may also be related to the ability to keep one‟s own
counsel, to talk to oneself, as in the case of ___‟s healthy superego.

In some ways, a healthy superego is perhaps a compatriot of the “sound heart” that Mark
Twain talks about—the ability to reflect, to recognize pain in another and take action to
relieve it, and the capacity for remorse.

Milch defines conscience from an intersubjective systems perspective: “conscience, we
might say, is a personal sense of our relatedness to worlds other than and larger than our
own—a relatedness that requires us to refrain from doing harm to those worlds and, in
some instances, to act to prevent such harm. These worlds may be primarily human but
may also include other species or the planet as a whole.”


We have a biological capacity for concern and empathy which is activated early in
infancy, and continues to develop throughout life. This capacity is evidenced in a
different manner depending upon the stage of development. The oedipal period, and
oedipal resolution is a watershed for recognition of the course this capacity.
Seen in this light, it is clear that the oedipal period is a critical time for formation of
autonomy, self responsibility, as well as reworking and restructuring object ties and
creating room for new ones. One aspect of this new structuring is the capacity for triadic
relationships. This aspect is both an outcome of prior experience and a prerequisite for
the capacity for autonomy and empathy in the future.

Bowlby‟s attachment theory and the research that it has inspired have established the
existence of an independent instinctual/emotional system that controls the infant‟s
affectionate and essential tie with its mother.




The way that this makes sense is if we understand the classical concept of the formation
of the superego as a neurotic structure, and that there is a normal counterpart to that
neurotic structure, and it involves an innate sense of “the right thing” and that innate
sense contains the impulse or instinct of altruism.



The healthy resolution of the Oedipus complex is a triumph of object love—and that part
of object love that takes pleasure in the other‟s happiness, over narcissistic (self-
interested) object love, which is really a form of narcissistic libido. To the degree that the
resolution of the Oedipus comes out of castration fear, or out of fear of loss of love, that
resolution is a neurotic one.

Freud described the superego as a new structure that forms during the oedipal period.
The oedipal period may be a critical time for condensation of a structure such as the
superego. It seems though, that this structure contains the capacity for loving as well as
aggressive aspects.

What is not generally considered on the oedipal resolution is the child‟s love for the
parents, and the child‟s developing capacity for triadic love. It is this capacity that is
likely to be part of a healthy resolution to the complex. In fact, the capacity for triadic
love and the capacity for empathy, which are related, are probably at the root of altruistic
feelings and behaviors.

Schafer noted in his 1960 article about the “loving and beloved superego” that the
superego, as well as being harsh and critical, can also be loving and approving. So a
loving, approving parent can be internalized as well as a critical one, in terms of the
superego‟s evaluative function.

However, we know that people behave in ways that are not only self-interested, but also
self-sacrificing. The classical theorists will explain self-sacrificing (altruistic) behavior
as a defense or a transformation of self-interested behavior.
Sandler: (rep world, p. 142), “object representations, when first differentiated from self-
representations, receive a libidinal cathexis because they serve a need-satisfying function.
Later, primary narcissism differentiates into residual narcissistic cathexis and object love.
Anna Freud, in her seminal paper, “On Altruism” described a young woman who desired
success for another young woman, and through self-analysis came to realize that her wish
was a displacement of wishes for herself. Others have explained altruistic behavior as an
identification with the concerned attitude of a parent. Sometimes altruism is explained as
a defense, such as a reaction formation against aggression, or as a manifestation of
masochism.

In their paper, “ “, ____ and ____ describe forms of altruism. They acknowledge that
altruistic behavior can be defensive in nature, but also describe a primary form, which
they call ____. Other studies, such as that of Gabbard and Shapiro (date) point out the
evolutionary advantage of altruism, in that it promotes survival of the species, not just the
individual‟s gene pool. Gabbard and Shapiro make the point that…


If we entertain the idea that a triadic, altruistic love is possible, it becomes necessary to
understand how this might come about. Melanie Klein‟s explication of the role of the
experience of deprivation, hatred, envy and projection in the development of punitive
superego precursors is helpful in our understanding of development of a punitive or a
neurotic superego. Klein‟s studies interpreted an infant‟s loving behavior (bringing toys
to a parent, etc.), primarily as reparation for the infant‟s destructive fantasies. Again,
aggression and hatred are seen as primary, love as defense, even though Klein
acknowledges that the hatred originates in the absence of, and longing for, the good
breast. Because so many of our patients (and of us, perhaps) did not get enough of the
good breast, we sometimes forget that there can be those that do. And perhaps the
experience of getting enough is of prime importance in the development of the capacity
for generosity, for sharing, for having triadic relationships, and for altruistic love.
Relationship of superego to ego

Superego develops as its own agency—regards the object. We can say that the superego
has a relationship to the ego. That relationship can be to various degrees and
combinations conflictual, destructive, harsh, loving, helpful. Josephs, Schafer, other
(superego as counselor)


It is striking that we, as analysts, who devote our lives to improving the lives of others,
often at considerable personal sacrifice, and obtain a certain joy in their improvement, are
reluctant to endorse an altruistic motive for our endeavors. We acknowledge
sublimations (of primal scene fantasies?), identifications (with S. Freud, with our
analyst), or altruism as a defense (against…?), and even masochism. We acknowledge
our empathic function. If we use ourselves as examples, and also acknowledge happiness
in our patients‟ progress, and in their happiness (even if mixed with regret or envy), this
happiness must have its source in altruistic love, and must be linked to empathy.
I think that one reason we are reluctant to acknowledge the idea of altruistic love as a
primary impulse or instinct is that we are wedded to the idea of object libido as self-
interested. I think this comes out of our western view of the world as I-centered. Even
the term, “ego-psychology”, endorses the individual ego, the “I”, as of primary
importance, as opposed to the importance of the “you” or the “we”. As long as we insist
that the “I” is not only of primary but of sole importance, there is not room for a concept
of altruism. In the final reduction, success is for the individual, and we are left to
struggle with the vicissitudes of aggression, envy, and competition.

Freud, in his explanation of the death instinct, (written in a time of war), described this
instinct as primarily relating to aggression and destruction. However, Sabrina Spielrein,
in her original description of this instinct, had a different idea. In her paper,
“Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being”, notes that following production of a
new generation, many creatures forfeit their lives, such as the May fly. She states, “the
individual must strongly hunger for this new creation in order to place its own destruction
in creation‟s service”. Although the themes in her paper oscillate between Freud‟s libido
theory and Jung‟s ideas of the collective unconscious (in fact, she seems to be trying to
reconcile these theories to one another, which is somewhat confusing), Spielrein
definitely promotes an idea of [a death instinct as the] loss of self: “In this Great Mother
(the unconscious), each differentiated image will be dissolved, i.e., it will be transformed
into an undifferentiated state.”

Spielrein: “The relationship between the instincts of nurturing and self-preservation
doubtless is very close to that of preservation of the species (including the sexual
instinct)”

Spielrein: “the closer we approach our conscious thoughts, the more differentiated our
images; the deeper we penetrate the unconscious, the more universal and typical the
images. The depth of our psyche knows no „I‟, but only its summation, the „We‟.” “It
considers the ego to be an object observed and subordinated to other similar objects.”
Indeed, we often notice in our patients the tendency of the superego to treat the self as
harshly or gently as it treats all other objects.

Spielrein, “an intense longing to return to the source” i.e., a merger with the parents. In
this way, an instinct to preserve the self is at odds with the instinct to lose the self—in
love, in altruism, in appreciation of art, nature, etc.


Development of the superego
Josephs (1989): “Kohut postulated two forms of libido, object libido and narcissistic
libido, each with its own independent developmental line.” Kohut: primary narcissism >
narcissistic libido > grandiose self + idealized parent imago (= selfobject, mirroring and
idealized). Freud suggested ego and superego are constituted by precipitate of abandoned
object cathexes. Kohut suggested they are also constituted by abandoned narcissistic
cathexes.
In terms of our psychoanalytic understanding of the formation of the superego, the aspect
of fear is epitomized in our concept of the resolution of the Oedipus complex—fear of
castration. As a compromise the child settles for identification with the same sex parent.
What is also presumed is the fear of loss of love of the parents.

However, if the castration complex and a resolution provoked by fear is not defined as a
normal development, but as part of a genesis of neurotic development, then we must look
elsewhere for an understanding of normal development. In other words, just as a we
know that, in modern times, a girl‟s identity is more than „not a boy‟, and a vagina cannot
be defined as the absence of a penis, but must have an identity of its own, so normal
development cannot be defined in terms of the absence of, or especially as a defense
against, a neurosis.


The healthy resolution of the Oedipus complex is a triumph of object love—and that part
of object love that takes pleasure in the other‟s happiness, over narcissistic (self-
interested) object love, which is really a form of narcissistic libido. To the degree that the
resolution of the Oedipus comes out of castration fear, or out of fear of loss of love, that
resolution is a neurotic one.




Superego as Neurosis
Schafer noted in his 1960 article about the “loving and beloved superego” that the
superego, as well as being harsh and critical, can also be loving and approving. So a
loving, approving parent can be internalized as well as a critical one, in terms of the
superego‟s evaluative function.

Libido as self-interested

CJosephs (1989): “in classical psychoanalysis, the superego is not only the heir to the
Oedipus complex but is also the heir to the wish for narcissistic perfection. Fenichel
stated: “Narcissistic and sexual needs become differentiated; sexual needs develop in
relationship to objects, narcissistic one more in the relationship between ego and
superego”. The problem with this formulation is that it defines both object libido and
narcissistic libido in self-interested terms. Defined this way, both are about the subject‟s
needs—there is nothing about the subject‟s concern for the needs of the object.

Josephs quoting Stolorow and Lachmann (1980): “Mental activity is narcissistic to the
degree that its function is to maintain the structural cohesion, temporal stability, and
positive affective coloring of the self-representation”. Josephs: Kohut‟s self psychology
implies that the mind is always engaged in a unified effort to restore narcissistic
equilibrium which is more of less successful depending upon the environmental provision
of sustaining self-objects.”

Sandler (Rep World) thinks that the basis for empathy is the momentary fusion of self-
and object representations. “Identification which is the result of momentary fusion of
self-and object representations is, under certain circumstances, a normal process, and the
basis for such phenomena as empathy.”

Evolutionary evidence for altruism




Reparation

Bouchard and Lecours: Klein‟s notion of reparation is the subject becoming aware of
having attacked his then hated and split object in omnipotent fashion and now fears
having destroyed his more integrated, imperfect but loving object. The Kleinian scenario
involves reparations to the object. Bouchard & Lecours suggest another angle—a
capacity to exonerate one‟s punitive inner objects, to forgive them.

Altruism as an instinct

The superego is in the service of preserving the self, and the way it is formed, it uses fear
as its main tool.

Spielrein: “The instinct for self-preservation is a simple drive that originates exclusively
from a positive component; the instinct for preservation of the species, which must
dissolve the old to create the new, arises from both positive and negative
components………preservation of the species is a „dynamic‟ drive that strives for
change, the „resurrection‟ of the individual in a new form. No change can take place
without destruction of the former condition.”

Spielrein: “corresponding to the biological facts, the reproductive drive also consists
psychologically of two antagonistic components, a destructive drive as well as a drive for
coming into being.”


Josephs (1997) postulates that “shifts between self-syntonic and self-dystonic contents
are seen to reflect an underlying intra-systemic conflict within the superego between
conflicting superego injunctions.” He states that “whether or not a self-experience is felt
to be either syntonic or dystonic is always but not exclusively a function of an underlying
superego evaluation.” What I propose is that one of these injunctions is inherent, as an
instinct, of altruism. It remains to be determined as to whether altruism can be classified
as part of the superego.
Anxiety as fear of self-criticism: Huck is not neurotic. He is aware of his self-criticism.

Josephs: Alleviation of self-criticism of self-dystonic content allows that content to be
assimilated, to be made self-syntonic Similar, again, to Loewald.

Superego is subject regarding ego and other as object—regarding in a loving way or a
critical way.



Sandler: (rep world, p. 142), “object representations, when first differentiated from self-
representations, receive a libidinal cathexis because they serve a need-satisfying function.
Later, primary narcissism differentiates into residual narcissistic cathexis and object love.
Does object love contain empathy? Is the difference between narcissistic (self-interested)
object love the capacity for triadic relationships? I think is must be so.

That the capacity for altruistic object love may have something to do with an
identification does not detract from the importance of the concept. If empathy is an
identification, then there is an inherent capacity for such an identification—related to the
capacity for empathy/altruism. This capacity may be [underdeveloped,] repressed, or
conflicted, but it is no less important than the capacity for aggression, which may also be
repressed or conflicted.

The problem in the original concept of libido is that it is self-interested.

In the brain, the perception of another‟s anger is registered at a different anatomical
location than the perception of another‟s joy.

Mark Twain, in a manuscript, said of Huck, “I will go ahead and be as bad as I can.” He
resigns himself to being “bad”. In effect, he says to his superego, “Go ahead, do your
worst.” When the fear element is taken away, the superego loses power, and gives the ego
more ability to assess the situation. In effect, he accepts the loss of the superego‟s love,
and is willing to accept the consequences. This is reminiscent of Loewald‟s concept of
taking responsibility for “killing” our parents.


What Huck does not realize is that he has unconsciously (instinctively?) put Jim before
Himself—he has put him ahead of his own self interest, as it relates to feeling “good”.
____ stated that we do our best to come back to a state of feeling “good” or feeling
“_____”. Still, this is put in self-interested terms.

Francis St. Exupery stated the issue what he asks in his book, the little Prince, “Has the
sheep eaten the flower? You will see how everything changes.” The question touches
the part of our brain that is capable of triadic love—the ability to feel happiness in
someone else‟s happiness, and sadness in their sadness, when is has nothing to do with
us.
Undoubtedly many will say this is simply an identification, to which I reply, “What about
this process of identification? and how does it differ from the capacity for empathy? will
agree. Huck has already felt compassion for Jim, and has felt true remorse for hurting
him. When he finds the raft, and Jim, on the Mississippi after a harrowing few days
being lost, his impulse is to play a trick on Jim, to make him think that his absence was
Jim‟s dream. When Jim sees through the ruse he shames Huck, and Huck feels true
remorse for abusing the friendship. He apologizes: “It took me a while to work up
to….but I‟ve never been sorry…would never have done it if I‟d a known it would hurt
him.”

In terms of our psychoanalytic understanding of the formation of the superego, the aspect
of fear is epitomized in our concept of the resolution of the Oedipus complex—fear of
castration. As a compromise the child settles for identification with the same sex parent.
What is less often discussed, but also presumed if the fear of loss of love of the parents.
What is not generally considered is the child‟s love for the parents, and the capacity for
triadic love that is part of a healthy resolution to the complex. In fact, the capacity for
triadic love and the capacity for empathy, which are related, are probably at the root of
altruistic feelings and behaviors.

Melanie Klein understood that envy is at the heart of the pathology, or the blocking of
altruistic love. To Klein, envy develops from a perception of wanting, or lack which
creates a feeling of badness which is projected onto the object, the “bad breast”. In truth,
by definition, if a person is able to feel empathy, they have “enough”, or have accepted
their lack, which is the same thing. Due to differences in constitution and experience,
one person‟s need—for love, esteem—may be greater than another‟s. Her corollary is
the “good breast”      from

       B. Evidence for innate altruism

               1. mothering

               2. soldiers

               3. children of the holocaust

               4. evolutionary advantages

II. Superego as created

       A. Development per Freud

               1. emphasis on role of fear

               2. role of love
               3. role of capacity for triadic relationships, empathy

       B. Development per M. Klein

               1. Importance of internalized and reprojected objects

       C. Roy Schafer: loving aspects of superego

III. Guilt and Remorse

       A. For the superego, make reparations

               1. In neurosis, reparations do not end—need to repeat

               2. In true remorse, can repair and move on

               3. Difference between grief and melancholia, or complicated
               bereavement.
                      a. In melancholia, have ambivalent relationship.

                       b. Superego punishes self in depression

       B. Loewald: Need to take responsibility for “killing” parents

               1. Separate from them

Loewald (1979) noted that even when the child severs the merger by becoming
increasingly autonomous, the dissolution of parental authority and the usurpation of
parental power evokes guilt, as though becoming independent had been a transgression
(e.g., a symbolic oedipal triumph.) (Josephs, 1989)


Sandler, et al (1963)( in Josephs, 1989): “Guilt is experienced when his ideal self differs
from that which he feels to be dictated by his introjects…‟I do not really want to be what
I feel I ought to be”‟.

Josephs talks about the wish to be great (pride, admired, the ego ideal) and the wish to be
good (loved, the superego). Josephs notes the wish to be great and the wish to be good
can conflict with one another. Failure can be felt as shame in being weak, or as remorse
in being bad.

Kohut was concerned with restoring equilibrium.

Development of the superego: In Kleinian terms, the precursors of the superego are
generated in infancy, when the infant, frustrated by the absence of the mother, breast, bad
breast, projects his hatred onto the object and perceives a hating object. In Freud‟s
oedipal configuration, projection of aggression onto the opposite sex parent creates fear
of that parent. The superego

Schafer discussed a loving aspect to the superego.

According to Milch, Freud saw conscience and in later writings the superego as in
important evolutionary achievement of human beings that mediated between the needs
and drives of the individual and the demands of society. He investigated conscience
initially in terms of a defense against drives. In 1914, Freud thought of conscience as
having the function of constantly monitoring the current state of the ego and measuring it
against the ideal. In 1923, Freud characterized conscience as part of the superego.,
though he later sometimes used both conceps interchangeably.

Erdely (In Milch) in 1998 concluded that the superego—including the ideological
structures contained within in—contributes to a process whereby the self represses and
debilitates its own perceptions and sensory experience. The superego then prevents the
perception of reality and replaces it with ideological demands that resemble the
symptoms of an illness. This definition of the superego seems to be a narrow one—that
of the superego as composed of harsh introjects.

Really, part of the confusion about the superego is that it is so different in different
people.

Difference depends on resolution of the Oedipus complex, which in turn depends on the
quality of preoedipal relationships.

Resolution holds one key to the connection with altruism—that of the ability to take
another‟s perspective, empathy, and the capacity to take pleasure in a triadic relationship.

Milch defines conscience from an intersubjective systems perspective: “conscience, we
might say, is a personal sense of our relatedness to worlds other than and larger than our
own—a relatedness that requires us to refrain from doing harm to those worlds and, in
some instances, to act to prevent such harm. These worlds may be primarily human but
may also include other species or the planet as a whole.”

               2. Acknowledge, accept one‟s aggression

               3. Includes true remorse for acting on aggression

IV. Huck Finn‟s struggle

       A. Instinct: protect Jim

       B. Superego: return slave

       C. Works it out—do what comes natural at the time
Perhaps our notion of development of the superego out of the Oedipus complex can be
expanded to be thought of as a paradigm of development of conscience. In as much as
the child internalizes/identifies with a harsh, feared parent, the superego will be a fear-
based, neurotic structure, but to the extent that the child feels adequately loved, and has
achieved a capacity for triadic relationship and a triadic (unselfish) love, the superego
will be softer and more compassionate. In a sense, the child loves the parent both self-
interestedly and unselfishly. To the extent the child experiences the parent as generous
and unselfish, or can construct an internal image of a generous, unselfish parent, his
superego will tend to be that way, and he will have the capacity for unselfish (altruistic)
love towards external objects as well as a self love.

Our psychology has clearly identified the etiology of anxiety, i.e. neuroses—
disintegration anxiety, i.e., fear of loss of self, fear of loss of the object, fear of loss of the
object‟s love, and fear of loss of the superego‟s love. These fears, of course, are at the
root of all neuroses. Since we treat neuroses, it is natural that these concepts have been
explored so fully.


What has not been explored as fully, however, is the healthy counterpart to all of these
fears. It is not right for our psychology to define neurosis as pathology, and then to
define health as a defense against that pathology. If we say that the natural resolution of
the Oedipus Complex is the castration complex, then we say that the castration complex
is normal. We are then in the position of having to explain future behavior/feelings as a
defense against castration. We could explore other basic fears in the same way.


There is no doubt that the genesis of neurosis lies in the basic fears listed above. It also is
perhaps true that much of our superego may be fear based. But it does seem to me that
the fear-based part of our superego is the essence of neurosis, and that the capacity to
modify that fear-based part is a healthy function.

Perhaps we can look to the Oedipus Complex as a paradigm, as a critical period at which
time it becomes particularly clear whether, or to what extent, an individual is in the
process of becoming neurotic. The resolution of the Complex can be primarily out of
fear, or primarily out of love—not love in the sense of sexual longing, which is self-
interested, but love in the sense of pleasure in another‟s happiness, an altruistic
phenomenon. We know that the sense of empathy develops around the time of the
Oedipal period. We also know the importance of this period in the development of the
capacity for triadic relationships. In a triadic relationship, one is able to accept that loved
objects have relationships with others. It is not frequently acknowledged in our field that
a child can and often does take pleasure in the love of his parents for each other. If we do
acknowledge that this is the case, might it not follow that this can be another path toward
resolution of the Oedipus Complex—the child‟s happiness in his parents‟ togetherness.
Classical psychoanalysis might argue that this happiness is a reaction formation. If it is,
the motivation for the resolution is out of fear, and we are again in the position of
defining neurosis as the normal way.

If we entertain the idea that a triadic, altruistic love is possible, it becomes necessary to
understand how this might come about. Melanie Klein‟s explication of the role of the
experience of deprivation, hatred, envy and projection in the development of punitive
superego precursors is helpful in our understanding of development of a punitive or a
neurotic superego. Klein‟s studies interpreted an infant‟s loving behavior (bringing toys
to a parent, etc.), primarily as reparation for the infant‟s destructive fantasies. Again,
aggression and hatred are seen as primary, love as defense, even though Klein
acknowledges that the hatred originates in the absence of, and longing for, the good
breast. Because so many of our patients (and of us, perhaps) did not get enough of the
good breast, we sometimes forget that there can be those that do. And perhaps the
experience of getting enough is of prime importance in the development of the capacity
for generosity, for sharing, for having triadic relationships, and for altruistic love.

What we really need to ask is whether, if a person didn‟t get enough love at the beginning
of his life, at that critical period, is it ever possible, for the regression that comes in
psychoanalysis, for that person to recover. I think that this is the basis for much of the
disagreement between Kohution analysts and ego psychologists—the Kohutions believe
healing is possible through the transmuting internalizations facilitated by the analyst
acting as a self-object, while ego psychologists believe that healing is possible is through
the patient‟s recognition and acceptance of his early disappointments, and the
understanding of the results of early experience.

If we concede the possibility of altruism, and utilize the paradigm of an oedipal capacity
for triadic relationships, we might question how this altruistic capacity manifests itself
through life.


We know that parents to some extent see their children as narcissistic extensions of
themselves, and take a narcissistic pride in their accomplishments. However, the concept
of narcissism does not negate the parents‟ true happiness in their children‟s happiness. It
is a fairly common experience to “lose oneself” in one‟s work, particularly among artists
and musicians. In fact, the experience of loss of self can sometimes be the most
rewarding aspect of work. Erik Erikson, in his description of old age, notes that

Even in psychiatry textbooks, altruism is defined as a mature defense. If we define
altruistic behavior as defensive, then only behavior that is self-interested is non-
defensive, or conflict free. Given the amount of self-interested behavior that we know is
conflictual, this leaves us with only a small amount of behavior in what we can label as
the „conflict-free ego sphere‟. I would argue, though, that defining altruism as a defense
puts us in the position of rejecting the idea of triadic (altruistic) love, back to resolution
of the Oedipus through fear, back to defining the neurotic as normal.
However, it is not tenable to have something simultaneously defined as healthy and as
neurotic, and there is an absence in our field of the definition of the healthy. There is a
problem with defining the neurotic as normal, a problem with a definition of that
development that not only negotiate a fear or fears, but actually integrates these fears as a
central part of a normal (not neurotic) personality.

As a field, we have not come to an agreement as to whether aggression is a basic primary
drive, or whether aggression is primarily a response to frustration. Freud wrestled with
the question of drives—libido and aggression, death instinct. Those who see libido as a
single, primary instinct believe that libido is shaped and transformed according to genetic
predisposition and experience. An individual has capacities, or „wiring‟, if you will, for
various transformations. These can include the aggressive instinct, an instinct of self-
preservation, sexual love, and perhaps altruistic love.

Those who propose two instincts, aggression and libido, in fact define aggression as the
primary instinct. I say this because the concept of libido, in classical psychoanalysis, is a
self-interested one. The idea of „fusion‟ of sexual and aggressive instincts leaves us with
one self-interested instinct.

In biological development there is the concept of a critical period. Infant studies have
shown the importance of maternal-infant bonding. It is likely that this I-you shared
experience is important for the later emergence of empathy.

Melanie Klein described the infant‟s movement from the paranoid-schizoid to the
depressive position, in which the infant/child realizes that the loved/hated object is
separate from the infant. This is a loss for the infant. Also, the infant has a realization
that the hated object is also the loved object, and fears that his rage toward the hated
object has destroyed or will destroy the loved object. The realization that the loved
object could be lost is part of the depressive position. The infant feels remorse for
destroying the object. An aspect of this remorse

Altruism, like humor, can certainly be used as a defense, but it would be a mistake to say
that either of these capacities is solely defensive.


Transitions

Conceptions of the functions of the superego

The necessity of (altruistic) libido and empathy in normal development

Need to overcome fear in normal, healthy development

Fear is the enemy of healthy development
Fear is linked to envy, in that fear of loss of love is often triggered by a feeling that
someone else is loved more, or has something that one feels they lack

An implication for treatment is the need to be aware of the possibility of a healthy
impulse of altruism, and the importance of not assuming, without further evidence, that
this impulse is necessarily defensive.

In narcissism, one is defensive and protective of one‟s fragile sense of self. The danger
in letting go of self-absorption and self-awareness is the danger of loss of self esteem.
(ego-ideal). This interferes with altruistic love. In neurosis, one‟s fear of loss keeps
one‟s focus on the self, in that one is constantly concerned about “doing the right thing”.
When a person has developed a strong fairly unshakable sense of oneself, which can be
thought of as ego strength, one has overcome self doubt enough to let go of self
awareness.

We have a biological capacity for concern and empathy which is activated early in
infancy, and continues to develop throughout life. This capacity is evidenced in a
different manner depending upon the stage of development. The oedipal period, and
oedipal resolution is a watershed for recognition of the course this capacity.
                                                                             Add to
               Becoming Aware of Feelings:                                   marked items
                                                                             Add to
               Integration of Cognitive-                                     shopping cart
                                                                             Add to saved

               Developmental, Neuroscientific, and Recommend
                                                                             items

                                                                             this article
               Psychoanalytic Perspectives
                         Neuro-Psychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary
               Journal   Journal for Psychoanalysis and the
                         Neurosciences
               Publisher Karnac Books Ltd.
               ISSN      1529-4145
               Issue     Volume 7, Number 1 / 2005
               Pages     5-30
               Online
                         23 February 2007
               Date

PDF (841.7 KB)
Authors

Richard D. Lane1, David A. S. Garfield2
1College   of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
2Chicago   Institute for Psychoanalysis, University of Medicine and Science, North
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Abstract

A fundamental ingredient of psychoanalytic treatment is the ability of the
analysand to become consciously aware of his or her own emotional responses.
We propose that the conscious awareness of emotion is a type of information
processing that can be viewed as a separate domain of cognitive function, that
the transition from unconscious (implicit) to conscious (explicit) aspects of
emotion can be understood developmentally in the manner described by Piaget
for cognitive functions generally, and that explicit emotional processes have a
modulatory effect on implicit processes. We then present a parallel hierarchical
model of the neural substrates of emotional experience supported by recent
neuroimaging work. We describe how the neural substrates of implicit and
explicit aspects of emotion are dissociable, and we discuss the neural substrates
of implicit aspects of emotion, background feelings, focal attention to feelings,
and reflective awareness of feelings. This framework constitutes an alternative to
traditional psychoanalytic understandings of insight. We conclude by discussing
the implications of this model for psychoanalysis, including the nature of clinical
change, the psychological processes involved in change with and without insight,
and a framework for conceptualizing how to promote emotional change in a
variety of clinical settings.
References

References secured to subscribers.
                                                                          Add to marked
                   Emotions, Unconscious                                  items
                                                                          Add to shopping
                   Processes, and the Right                               cart
                                                                          Add to saved

                   Hemisphere
                                                                          items
                                                                          Recommend this
                                                                          article
                             Neuro-Psychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary
                   Journal Journal for Psychoanalysis and the
                             Neurosciences
                   Publisher Karnac Books Ltd.
                   ISSN      1529-4145
                   Issue     Volume 7, Number 1 / 2005
                   Pages     71-81
                   Online
                             23 February 2007
                   Date

PDF (156.3 KB)
Authors

Guido Gainotti, M.D.1
1Institute   of Neurology, Catholic University/Policlinico Gemelli, Rome, Italy
Abstract

Since the classical Babinski's (1914) observation of lack of awareness
("anosognosia") for a left-sided hemiplegia, the problem of the mechanisms
underlying this surprising phenomenon has been raised. Most authors have
stressed the links between right hemisphere and emotional processes,
considering anosognosia as an abnormal emotional reaction, caused by
disruption of the side of the brain crucially involved in emotional behavior.
Theoretically motivated models of hemispheric asymmetries in emotional
processing have proposed either a right-hemisphere dominance for specific
components of emotions, or a different involvement of the right and left
hemispheres in different levels of emotional processing. Following the last line of
thought, we have proposed that the right hemisphere may subserve the lower
"schematic" level (where emotions are automatically generated and experienced
as "true emotions) and the left hemisphere the higher "conceptual" level (where
emotions are consciously analyzed and submitted to an intentional control). In
agreement with this model, recent empirical data strongly suggest that the right
hemisphere might play a major role in the automatic, unconscious generation of
emotions, whereas the left hemisphere could be mainly involved in the conscious
analysis and control of emotional processes.
References

References secured to subscribers.
                                                                           Add to marked
                Toward a Neuroscience of                                   items
                                                                           Add to shopping
                Empathy: Integrating Affective                             cart
                                                                           Add to saved

                and Cognitive Perspectives
                                                                           items
                                                                           Recommend
                                                                           this article
                          Neuro-Psychoanalysis: An Interdisciplinary
                Journal Journal for Psychoanalysis and the
                          Neurosciences
                Publisher Karnac Books Ltd.
                ISSN      1529-4145
                Issue     Volume 9, Number 2 / 2007
                Pages     119-140
                Online
                          24 January 2008
                Date




Loewald notes that punishment does not work in absolving one of a sense of guilt. More
punishment is always needed. There is a difference between punishment and atonement.

“Responsibility to oneself, within the context of authoritative norms consciously and
unconsciously accepted or assimilated from parental and societal sources, is the essence
of superego as internal agency.” (p. 392)

The paradox is: Self-responsibility, involving parricide in psychic reality and in
symbolic form…..is, from the viewpoint of received morality, a crime. But it is not only
a crime of which humans inevitably become guilty in the process of emancipating
individuation…self responsibility at the same time is the restitutive atonement for that
crime.” To Loewald, responsible autonomy is our atonement for choosing autonomy:
“The self, in its autonomy, is an atonement structure, a structure of reconciliation, and as
such a supreme achievement.”
(p. 404): the intermediate nature of incestuous relations, intermediate between
identification and object cathexis, throws additional light on its centrality.” …

“We are reminded that the oedipal attachments, struggles, and conflicts must also be
understood as new versions of the basic union-individuation dilemma. The superego, as
the culmination of individual psychic structure formation, represents something ultimate
in the basic separation-individuation process.”


When, because of having reached a capacity for superego formation, a higher
organization, internalization of self-regulatory functions mature object relations, we
renounce our primary object ties

Seen in this light, it is clear that the oedipal period is a critical time for formation of
autonomy, self responsibility, as well as reworking and restructuring object ties and
creating room for new ones. One aspect of this new structuring is the capacity for triadic
relationships. This aspect is both an outcome of prior experience and a prerequisite for
the capacity for autonomy and empathy in the future.

The aspect of love relationships and their severance and reworking in and after the
oedipal period constitutes another aspect of destruction, reorganization and atonement
described by Loewald, but this aspect will not be explored in this paper.

According to Loewald, the incest taboo preserves the integrity of preoedipal intimacy
and the preoedipal identificatory bond. This allows the identification to proceed on a
new plane, that of secondary identifications which contribute to the formation of the
superego. “Identification processes develop, on a new plane of organization extablished
in the oedipal phase, into secondary identifications of superego development.” (p. 398)

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:58
posted:9/7/2011
language:English
pages:40