journal no 6; 5th november 2012

A recap on all the psychodynamic practitioners we have looked at this term, to begin with;

FREUD –  levels of consciousness (unconscious, preconscious, conscious). Structure of personality (id, ego, superego) Pleasure principle and reality principle, defence mechanisms, dream analysis, free association, transference and counter transference, psychosexual stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latent, genital)

JUNG – analytical psychology, archetypes – animus, anima etc, shadow, personality types – thinking, feeling, Intuiting, sensing, transcendental meaning, individuation – spiritual growth, synchronicity, collective unconscious, personas

KLEIN – attachment theory, child analysis, splitting – good breast, bad breast, object relations, depressive and schizoid positions, play therapy

WINNICOTT – ‘good enough mother’, ego splitting, transitional objects, art/ drawings, nursing triangle, space between, focus on environment and relationship with it

FAIRBAIRN – object relations, driven by attachment, working beyond transference, creates real relationship with client, internal saboteur, attacking/resisting object and exciting/disappointing object, attachment with self is important re attachment to others

BOWLBY – attachment, mother-child, separation, secure base, loss, attachment styles – secure, avoidant, ambivelant,

ERIKSON – psychosocial stages, identity crisis, identity achievement, moratorium, foreclosure, identity diffusion

A little more time was spent recapping Erik Erikson, as we hadn’t looked at him in about a year. Here are his stages of psychosocial development;

1. Infancy: Birth to 18 Months

Ego Development Outcome: Trust vs. Mistrust
Basic strength: Drive and Hope

2. Early Childhood: 18 Months to 3 Years

Ego Development Outcome: Autonomy vs. Shame
Basic Strengths: Self-control, Courage, and Will

3. Play Age: 3 to 5 Years

Ego Development Outcome: Initiative vs. Guilt
Basic Strength: Purpose

4. School Age: 6 to 12 Years

Ego Development Outcome: Industry vs. Inferiority
Basic Strengths: Method and Competence

5. Adolescence: 12 to 18 Years

Ego Development Outcome: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Basic Strengths: Devotion and Fidelity

6. Young Adulthood: 18 to 35

Ego Development Outcome: Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation
Basic Strengths: Affiliation and Love

7. Middle Adulthood: 35 to 55 or 65

Ego Development Outcome: Generativity vs. Self- absorption or Stagnation
Basic Strengths: Production and Care

8. Late Adulthood: 55 or 65 to Death

Ego Development Outcome: Integrity vs. Despair
Basic Strengths: Wisdom


So, what do Erikson theories mean for me? I’m bang on cue, according to him. At 38 years old, having been divorced at age 35, I leave the young adulthood stage having been focussed on intimacy with my husband (I met him at 18) and  the solidarity of my family, and finding myself very much dealing with the issue of isolation as a result of having been unsuccessful in that  stage. Nowadays my focus is now firmly on my career (hence this training), and finding meaning in my life through what I do, and how much I contribute to society. At times, when I feel that I am not succeeding with that, I do find myself feeling as though I am stagnating, and that my self- absorption is my undoing. But of course, that is the peril of doing this course; there is a fine line between self- awareness and self- absorption, one that is easily crossed from time to time, and I have to be aware of that and the social consequences that brings as well.  Oh, I would love to talk psychological theory all day and night with whoever would listen to me (my poor children bear the brunt of that, I’m afraid – we often joke that they know more about Freud and Jung than most adults three times their age do), but I know that it must come across as boring and self-obsessed. Good thing, I am not married any more, really, because I can’t see how the strongest marriage could survive this kind of scrutiny!

Although I feel that there can’t be many relationships that can cope with a shake up this violent – I honestly do think that my children and I are coping better as a family unit, for it. I hope that my bringing them up with these ideas consciously  in their psyches helps them with their understanding of the world. They are between the school age and adolescence life stages, and I spend a lot of time advising them on the ‘pack mentality’ of their peers, and their fears of inferiority. The ‘moratorium’ that Erikson defined, where the adolescent goes through a period of withdrawing from responsibilities is well and truly happening in this house! It is hard to deal with, but I really do think it would be harder if I had to deal with a husband who refused to understand it as well (my ex husband thought that most psychological theories were patronising and ‘airy fairy’, not realising he, himself was a walking text book case study!)

Too much time spent talking about that stuff – the afternoon was spent being videoed in counselling skills practise, as part of our assessment process. How was that?  Horrendous! Nobody likes looking at themselves on tape, do they? Let alone people who have piled on over two stone in a year? I looked like a chubby middle aged jewish woman – which I suppose is what I am, really – but blimey – I have never EVER thought of myself in that way before, and to see myself in that way is erm, sobering to say the least. Oh well, diet tomorrow…

Jokes aside though, the taping of the counselling session was fun – it was good to see beyond my cringing, and note what sort of counselling skills I used. I hadn’t realised what an expressive face I have! To watch my face change through the session is almost akin to watching a mime – I think I need to work on toning that down a bit – hard, when it’s a completely unconscious process, though. There are many changes to be made; it is a process I would very much like to do again, perhaps towards the end of the course, to see if I do manage to change and evolve my style. As Erikson himself said, “There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding.” –  a metaphor for the continuing evolution of personality over time – after all, we are not ‘complete’ by the time we are 5 or 12 years old. We continue to evolve throughout life (and so will our counselling skills, hopefully)…



3 thoughts on “journal no 6; 5th november 2012

    • Thank you – I certainly don’t feel that I know that much! (I’m just a natural ‘glass is half empty’ kind of girl, I guess.) I find your story just as inspiring though, and am really looking forward to reading about how your studies go – hope you find the time to keep on blogging about it! 🙂

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