Who are we (as human individuals)?
How did we get to be ‘wired up’ the way we seem to be wired up?
It begins with a recapitulation of the author’s approach to rethinking the model of the human individual implicit in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), using some of the core concepts of Freudianism to provide an external frame of reference.
Next, the text returns to Freud’s writings to critically review some of those concepts, and in particular to challenge Feud’s view of human sexuality.
The result is a more general view of power relations between children and parents, and emotional difficulties arising out of those conflicts, rather than through psychosexual stages of development.
The text then reviews the theory and perspective of the Object Relations School of psychology/psychotherapy. This psycho-dynamic orientation sees relationship as being central to what life is about. It is not an optional extra. Human babies are ‘born to relate’. Relationship is integral to the survival urges and survival strategies of humans.
The E-CENT perspective sees the relationship of mother-baby as a dialectical (or interactional) one of mutual influence, in which the baby is ‘colonized’ by the mother/carer, and enrolled over time into the mother/carer’s culture, including language and beliefs, scripts, stories, etc. This dialectic is one between the innate urges of the baby and the cultural and innate behaviours of the mother. The overlap between mother and baby gives rise to the ‘ego space’ in which the identity and habits of the baby take shape. And in that ego space, a self-identity appears as an emergent phenomenon, based on our felt sense of being a body (the core self) and also on our conscious and non-conscious stories about who we are and where we have been, who has related to us, and how: (the autobiographical self).
Section 5 explores the question ‘Who am I?’ and in the process structures a model of what a human individual seems to be. And Section 6 examines the nature of good and evil, as innate and socially constructed aspects of each individual, including supporting evidence for this perspective in the literature of different religions and cultures.
This is followed by a brief review of the philosophy and psychology of human development, from Plato, through Kant, to Piaget, Bruner and Vygotsky; and back to Freud and the Object Relations theorists.
Section 9 reviews the way in which Transactional Analysis can be used to conceptualize the internalization of the mother and father by the baby’s mind. And, finally, Section 10 explores how the (conscious and non-conscious) mind emerges from the complexity of internalized relationship experience.