Monday, April 18, 2011

Motivation and Development

Mental health includes a sense of agency and of the subjective self in the context of relatedness and recognition by, and identification with, a subject (m)other/therapist who is a subject in her own right. Spezzano writes that human beings are motivated to share their conscious selves, regardless of other unconscious motivations, and that we can only know ourselves in light of how others know us.

Alongside the biological imperative to pass on genetic material for the survival of the species are many postulated psychological motivations. Freud’s theory of motivation was discharge of instinctual drives. Winnicott saw creativity and play as essential aspects of the true self. Bowlby and subsequent attachment theorists write about the need for safety and security. Ghent might have added “surrender.” Bach sees it as important to integrate a “sense of wholeness and aliveness” which included developing one’s own awareness and subjectivity, and learning to see oneself as one among many, with a place in the world. Maroda notes that people, to develop a full interpersonal repertoire as both subject and object, need to have their affective communications responded to, held, and returned in modified form (ala Bion).

Understanding of development is an important backdrop for the therapist when listening to and experiencing our patients. Therapy contributes to enhanced development, perhaps by recommencement of truncated development through a safe, empathic, good enough environment which facilitates reorganization of patterns of experience, as well as that co-constructing shared meaning can enhance self regulation.

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