The Matrix of the Mind p.208

By subjectivity, I am referring to the capacity for degrees of self-awareness ranging from intentional self-reflection (a very late achievement) to the most subtle, unobtrusive sense of “I-ness” by which experience is subtlety endowed with the quality that one is thinking one’s thoughts and feeling one’s feelings as opposed to living in a state of reflexive reactivity. Subjectivity is related to, but not the same as, consciousness. The experience of consciousness (and unconsciousness) follows from the achievement of subjectivity. Subjectivity, as will be discussed, is a reflection of the differentiation of symbol, symbolized, and interpreting subject. The emergence of a subject in the course of this differentiation makes it possible for a person to wish. The wish to make oneself unaware of an aspect of one’s system of meaning sets the stage for the differentiation of conscious and unconscious realms of experience.

 

Thomas H. Ogden – The Matrix of the Mind p.208

The Matrix of the Mind p.170

Winnicott’s theory of development is not a depiction of defensive adjustments made by an infant in the face of danger. Rather, it is an exploration of the mother’s provision of protective postponement and dosed stimulation. When the infant is in the womb, the mother’s role is to provide an environment that will buy the infant the time that he needs to mature before having to face the inevitable task of physical separation at birth. In precisely the same way, the mother’s role in the first months of life (prior to the infant’s entry into the period of the transitional phenomena at “about four to six to eight to twelve months” [Winnicott, 1951, p. 4]), is to provide an environment in which the postponement of psychological separateness can occur while the infant develops as a result of the interplay of biological maturation and actual experience. (As will be discussed, a crucial part of this interplay involves dosed stimulation including frustration.) The fact that the infant can develop only in the protective, postponing envelope of the maternal environment constitutes one level of the meaning of Winnicott’s notion that “there is no such thing as an infant.”

 

Thomas H. Ogden – The Matrix of the Mind p.170

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.110

What else can one expect of a mother who was always proud of being her mother’s dear good daughter, who was dry at the age of six months, clean at a year, at three could ‘mother’ her younger siblings, and so forth. In her own baby, such a mother sees the split-off and never-experienced parts of her self, of whose break-through into consciousness she is afraid, and she sees also the uninhibited sibling baby, whom she mothered at such an early age and only now envies and perhaps hates in the person of her own child. So she trains her child with looks, despite her greater wisdom – for she can do nothing else. As the child grows up, he cannot cease living his own truth, and expressing it somewhere, perhaps in complete secrecy. In this way a person can have adapted completely to the demand of his surroundings and can have developed a false self, but in his perversion or his obsessional neurosis he still allows a portion of his true self to survive – in torment. And so the true self lives on, under the same conditions as the child once did with his disgusted mother, whom in the meantime he has introjected. In his perversion and obsessions he constantly re-enacts the same drama: a horrified mother is necessary before drive-satisfaction is possible; orgasm (for instance, with a fetish) can only be achieved in a climate of self-contempt; criticism can only be expressed in (seemingly) absurd, unaccountable (frightening), obsessional fantasies.

 
Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.110

The Drama of the Gifted Child p.30

The paradise of preambivalent harmony, for which so many patients hope, is unattainable. But the experience of one’s own truth, and the postambivalent knowledge of it, makes it possible to return to one’s own world of feelings at an adult level – without paradise, but with the ability to mourn.

It is one of the turning points in analysis when the narcissistically disturbed patient comes to the emotional insight that all the love he has captured with so much effort and self-denial was not meant for him as he really was, that the admiration for his beauty and achievements was aimed at this beauty and these achievements, and not at the child himself. In analysis the small and lonely child that is hidden behind his achievements wakes up and asks: ‘What would have happened if I had appeared before you, bad, ugly, angry, jealous, lazy, dirty, smelly? Where would your love had been then? And I was all these things as well. Does this mean that it was not really me who you loved, but only what I pretended to be? The well-behaved, reliable, emphatic, understanding, and convenient child, who in fact was never a child at all? What became of my childhood? Have I not been cheated out of it? I can never return to it. I can never make up for it. From the beginning I have been a little adult. My abilities – were they simply misused?’

 

Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.30

The Challenging Child p.177

An interesting point worth remembering is that our schools, in the early years, tend to be biased towards children who are strong auditory-verbal learners. Verbal systems are highly valued as children learn to talk, read, and write. Even if they have trouble picturing math concepts, they can master them in these early years because the simple concepts can easily be memorized. Because the verbal systems is so overvalued in those early years, visual-spatial learners, who can understand math concepts but may not be able to memorize multiplication tables and have more difficulty with reading and writing, are thought to be slower in learning. Verbal children are more apt to be labeled “gifted” in those early years. Later, in high school and beyond, when science and math become more challenging and when even subjects like English and history are more analytical than factual and descriptive, visual-spatial learners (who are very analytical) may begin doing better. Some of the gifted auditory-verbal learners who depended too much on their outstanding memories and never grasped the concepts or principles behind what they were learning may begin to struggle…

Ideally, we should value different types of skills even in the early school years so that children would get a sense of their relative strengths no matter what they were. The child who can find his way to grandma’s house, even after going there only once, should feel just as smart as the child who can read directions about how to go to grandmother’s house.

 

Stanley I. Greenspan – The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five “Difficult” Types of Children p.177

The Brain and the Inner World p.122

The SEEKING system of a newborn baby is switched on when activated by a need, without the baby knowing what is needed. Left to its own devices, it is so helpless that it will never find the objects required to satisfy its needs and will therefore die. For this reason, it has caregivers that function as “intermediaries” between its needs (communicated by the expression of its emotions) and the objects in the outside world. The actions that these intermediaries perform on the baby’s behalf – and their effects – are then gradually learned (“internalized”) until the child can take care of itself. This, as we all know, is why parenting is so important. Early experiences of satisfaction form the templates of our understanding of how life works; for a child, learning how to adequately recognize its needs and meet them in the world is utterly bound up with the quality of parenting it receives. There are all sorts of subtle ways in which this process might be disrupted or distorted (for instance, if a baby’s needs are routinely neglected or misunderstood or even met too soon, before they can be felt). The foundations can thereby be laid for later psychopathology – in combination with a set of biological “risk factors,” such as variation in the inherent “setting” levels of the basic affective systems.

 

Mark Solms – The Brain and the Inner World: An Introduction to the Neuroscience of the Subjective Experience p.122

 

Why Gender Matters p.327

Professor Kim Wallen and his colleagues at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta decided to do this familiar study again, with a little twist: instead of offering human children a choice between dolls and trucks, they gave that choice to monkeys. They gave monkey the opportunity to play with a “boy toy” such as a truck or with a “girl toy” such as a doll.

The basic pattern of results was similar to the pattern seen with human children. The female monkeys slightly prefer to play with dolls rather than trucks. The males substantially prefer to play with trucks rather than dolls.

It is difficult to invoke the social construction of gender to accommodate this finding. You would have to assert that a monkey in authority, maybe a parent, is saying to a young male monkey, Don’t let me catch you playing with a doll! But in fact nothing of the sort happens. Monkeys don’t appear to care whether other monkeys, female or male, are playing with trucks or with dolls. And yet the main effect – the preference of the male to play with a truck rather than with a doll – is clearly present in monkeys, as it is in human children. But the social construction of gender cannot reasonably be invoked to explain this effect in humans, in view of the fact that a similar effect is present in monkeys…

Developmental psychologist Gerianne Alexander found sex differences among monkeys similar to the sex difference we see among human children. In 2003, one year after she published her monkey study. Professor Alexander published her theory explaining why female and male monkeys – as well as female and male humans – might prefer to play with different toys.

Scientists have known for more than thirty years that our visual system is actually two separate systems operating in parallel, beginning at the level of the ganglion cells in the retina and extending back to the visual cortex and visual  association cortex. One system is devoted to answering the question What is it? What’s its color? What’s its texture? The other system is devoted to answering the question Where is it going? And how fast is it moving? These two systems in the brain are often referred to as the “what” and the “where” system.

Professor Alexander was the first to suggest that hardwired sex differences in the visual system may explain finding such as the observed sex difference is the toy preferences of children (as well as monkeys). She conjectured that maybe girls have more resources in the “what” system, while boys have more resources in the “where” system. Girls are more likely to play with a doll rather than with a dull gray truck because the doll has a more interesting color and texture. Boys are more likely to play with the dull gray truck because it has wheels. It moves.

Professor Alexander’s hypothesis helps to make sense of many finding that otherwise are hard to explain. For example, baby girls (three to eight months of age), but not baby boys of the same age, prefer to look at dolls rather than at toy trucks. When researchers show women and men different colors and ask them to name the colors, “women respond faster and more accurately than men.” When researchers test men and women to see how accurately they can target a moving object, men are significantly more accurate than women… Finally researchers in Germany have reported dramatic sex differences in the anatomy of the human visual cortex in adults, with significantly more resources devoted to the “where” system in men that in women, even after adjusting for any overall size difference in the brain.

 

Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.327

Why Gender Matters p.51

Male chimpanzees are about twenty times as likely to fight as females are, but the fights don’t last more than a few minutes and rarely result in major injury. Two male chimps who fight each other this morning may be grooming each other this afternoon. According to Frans de Waal, a primatologist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, “Picking a fight can actually be a way for [male chimps] to relate to one another, check each other out, and take a first step toward friendship.” Female chimps rarely fight, but when they do, their friendship is over. The hostility that results can last for years. Serious injury is also more likely to occur when female chimpanzees fight. Female chimps who have fought each other are “vindictive and irreconcilable, according to Dr. de Waal.

In our species these differences are apparent as soon as children can talk. Boys as young as two years of age, given a choice between violent fairy tales and warm and fuzzy fairy tales, usually choose the violent stories. Girls as young as two years of age most often choose the warm and fuzzy stories. In another study psychologists found that five- and seven-year-old girls who like to make up violent stories are more likely to have significant behavior problems than girls who prefer warm, nurturing stories. However, among boys, a preference for making up violent stories is not an indicator of underlying psychiatric problems. A preference for violent stories seems to be normal for five- to seven-year-old boys, while the same preference in five- to seven-year-old girls suggests a psychiatric disorder.

 

Leonard Sax – Why Gender Matters p.51

The Essential Loewald: Defense and Reality p.22

Active support and channeling consist of creating a regressive, primitively structured environment with which the child is able to integrate; this, ideally, should continue in a sliding balance between the maturing bio-psychological structures, functions, and needs, and parental support. In actuality, however, the opportunities and conditions of practical necessity for an imbalance in this relationship, especially in our culture, are legion. Too little or too much, too early or too late support and channeling, and the varieties of conflict between the two parents in their capacity as supporting agents to the child represent a multitude of possibilities for such imbalance. With the increasing complexity of a culture other agents, in addition to parents, gain in importance, and the period of maturation lengthens.

 

Hans Loewald – The Essential Loewald: Defense and Reality p.22

The Essential Loewald: Ego and Reality p.6

As infant (mouth) and mother (breast) are not identical, or better, not one whole, any longer, a libidinal flow between infant and mother originates, in an urge towards re-establishing the original unity. It is this process in which consists the beginning constitution of a libidinal object. The emancipation from the mother, which entails the tension system between child and mother and the constitution of libidinal forces directed towards her, as well as of libidinal forces on the part of the mother toward the child – this emancipation and tension culminate in the phallic phase of the psychosexual development, lead to the Oedipus situation, and to the emergence of the super-ego.

The development away from primary narcissism, that is, the development of the ego, culminates in the resolution of the Oedipus conflict through the castration complex. The castration threat, directed against the gratification of libidinal urges toward the mother so that she is given up as a libidinal object, is seen as the representative of the demands of reality, and the submission to the castration threat as the decisive step in the establishment of the ego as based on the reality principle.

 

Hans Loewald – The Essential Loewald: Ego and Reality p.6