Excerpts About Secondary Autonomy

Quoting Blanck and Blanck "As thought processes develop, involving delay of drive discharge, intelligence serves the ego by aiding the organization of percepts and memory traces, making meaningful action possible. This organization of the inner world -- the world of internalizations -- is the very process of structuralization. As this proceeds, certain forms of behavior change in function. A process, which had originated as a defense -- for example, the essential mechanism of reaction formation in toilet training -- acquires adaptive autonomy when the purpose changes to maintenance of hygienic habits and orderliness. With change in function, the activity becomes pleasurable in its own right; whereas when it is still in its archaic defensive form it counteracts pleasure. The end result of change in function is attainment of secondary autonomy."
Pearl Beyond Price, p. 135   •  discuss »

The development of secondary autonomy may partially account for the questions and observations above, but it does not explain the emergence of Being. When a process or behavior changes from defensive to adaptive there is no apparent opposition to the emergence of Being; here, however, we are discussing something specific and not just any process or behavior. We are discussing identifications and identification systems. Identification has both defensive and adaptive functions, according to Hartmann. So the secondary autonomy of identifications (or identification systems of ego) involves such identifications decreasing their defensive functions and increasingly serving adaptation and growth. There is an assumption, however, that the identification systems of the ego will continue to exist. The individual will continue, at least unconsciously, to take such identifications (which are composed of internalized object relations) to define who he is. This means he is still identified with a self-image, although the self-image is now purged of its defensive properties. This is in line with the definition of self or object constancy, as the cathexis of a constant mental representation regardless of the state of need.


Pearl Beyond Price, p. 136   •  discuss »

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