Excerpt About Ego Development
Separation of the Infant from His Sense of BeingAt birth the human infant has no sense of self. He is Being. He is his being without knowledge or self-consciousness. There is no mental functioning yet. Slowly, through experiences of pleasure and pain, memory traces are retained, forming the first self-impressions (self-representations). As the infant starts taking himself to be this or that (this or that self-image) he separates from his sense of Being, because an image is not his being. As the ego-identity and sense of self develop and become stable, the contact with Being in its various aspects and qualities is mostly lost. The extent of the loss also depends on the adequacy of the environment and the infant's relation to it. The process of loss of contact with Being leaves a sense of deficiency, a state of deficient emptiness, as if the Being is left with many holes in it. The deficient emptiness is the state of the absence of contact with or awareness of Being. Space, which is the open dimension of Being, is lost in the formation of the self-image. This self-image includes the unconscious body image of having a genital hole. For the normal individual, the development of the personality happens relatively smoothly. The self is highly integrated and stays stable throughout most of one's life. In those with mental disorders, for reasons already known in depth psychology, the development of the personality and its sense of self is incomplete, or happens with various distortions, malformations, or inadequacies.