Excerpt About Dual Unity
Object Relations and Dual UnityThe Merging Essence is not revealed exactly by the loss of the mother's inner image, but more specifically by the loss of the deeper layers of the psychic structures. The unified mother image is a composite of images of mother remembered from all phases of ego development. The earliest, and hence the deepest, layers of it were formed in the symbiotic phase of ego development. This phase, which starts sometime in the second month of life and lasts until about the tenth month, is characterized by the infant behaving as though he and his mother were a unified functioning system, as though they formed a dual unity with a common boundary. Mahler called such behavior symbiosis, not implying the biological concept of symbiosis, but describing “that state of undifferentiation, of fusion with mother, in which the "I" is not yet differentiated from the "not-I" and in which inside and outside are only gradually coming to be sensed as different." This means that the infant's first object relation, the first time it becomes aware of relating to another, is in a form that cannot be strictly called a relation. There is still no separation or differentiation, in its mind, between self and other. There is still no concept of self or object, no concept of inside or outside. There is only a sense of a unity that has two vaguely perceived objects in it, what Mahler called a "dual unity."