COMFORTERS (dummies, blankets, soft toys) represent what the British child psychiatrist Donald Winnicott termed the Transitional Object: a material replacement for the presence of the mother. The wholly dependent baby is unable to conceive his or her mother as a separate entity. So emotionally urgent are the demands of the infant that tolerating the threat of mother-bond loss is unbearable. Clinging to a comforter wards off the desolation of the unformed Self. As confidence grows, extra-maternal comfort wanes.
I remember the sense of unease that I experienced, aged three, as my older brother discarded his comforter. Always the more boisterous of the two of us, he just lost interest in his Duck blanket one day. I continued to cling on to Panda for a few more years.
Adults tend to cling to ingrained bad habits in place of their soft toys or blankets. Running on auto-pilot, when the Self is under stress, these defences kick in. On some level we are all still hiding from the existential void our mothers kept us from. But for narcissists this state of defence is permanent. An elaborate mask and protective behaviours cover a fragile and wounded self.
This is the psychology, I believe, that underlies the age of narcissism, or narcissism epidemic we are living in. Psychologically narcissism can be understood as a developmental wound, not just an obsession of self. However it is understood, a projection of ‘me’ is at the forefront.
Between two and four years old the forming Self, mediated by mother and kept safe by a comforter, is a highly charged entity: it is the blueprint for who we become.
Emotional neglect or overbearing parenting can result in narcissistic injury and leave a legacy of shame and affecting the development of genuine autonomy.
The adult narcissist cathects objects and others to fill this void of a broken self-identity, often using perfectionism, vanity and grandiose virtue to cover the wound. Woe betide anyone who causes the mask to slip. The rage of a narcissist is righteous and unpleasant as we see in the more vitriolic of social media tweets and below the line comments.
It’s my contention that such emotional immaturity and insecurity is driving our national debate and to its detriment. Wokism informs it. These otherwise inexplicable behaviours and irrational policies are rooted in the separation of mind away from heart, in a collapse of genuine identity – that comes from familial belonging and attachment. Legions of people – especially the young – have become unmoored from a firm sense of self. To compensate, they join the ranks of ideological tribes spawned by identity politics and react with frenzy against any perceived threat to their group. Such fears explain the pathological obsession with control we find amongst today’s politicians and advisers.
This exists much less in the private ‘basic’ level of society of functioning families who still merrily display ranges of emotion and don’t fear to express the love and affection that goes with supporting and containing the organic maturation process.
But rise through the strata to the educated classes, to the advisers and the experts, the bureaucrats, academics and the custodians of all that came before who inhabit the public domain: there you find things are deeply amiss.
Several generations of mothers, trained to put themselves and careers above all, have created fertile ground for the development of vulnerable infants. It has reduced the maternal availability needed to mediate the tempestuous journey from oral reflex to individual Self; outsourcing this function to third parties and by default the State.
Meanwhile fathers, like our recently departed Health Secretary, stripped of their sense of masculine duty and prepared to sacrifice family for self-gratification, combine this unique selfishness with the expectation of safety from authority or indeed censure. Too many of the custodians of our civic and cultural society are fundamentally and developmentally flawed.
Good people are drawn along by the tone of the tribe. As rationality gives way to cancelling everyone from Disraeli to Handel, as political career criminals are valorised to sainthood, as gender mythology is institutionalised, allowing biological males access to once sacred female spaces, they become trapped in this inverted populism, though they may meet it with despair.
As the spurious ‘Freedom Day’ approaches, like a desperate dad left holding the baby, the largest Conservative majority government in a generation again are kowtowing to their safety figure, the Communist-led Sage. And these hysterical ‘liberals’ can’t let go. Fearing the end to their grip on power they are fast transitioning ‘freedom’ into Covid passports; mandatory vaccines for thousands of care home workers; businesses, NHS Trusts and transport providers still enforcing masks and social distancing and more Covid fear.
It was by fear that they manipulated the nation, first with the ‘need for lockdown’ lie and second with the national vaccine campaign reign of terror and now it seems both are planned for our ‘safety’. Or is it for theirs?
Johnson and his corrupt team have sullied the principle of Britain’s Common Law Freedoms and destroyed the integrity of the individual’s rights through collective hysteria and a delusion of the common good: ‘I shall obey my moral duty to protect others, you must do the same for me!’
These people need their comforter.
It’s not difficult to grasp why these ‘liberal’ hysterics need to restrain the nation they feared losing control over through Brexit. It’s not impossible to fathom why Johnson has handed them the keys, as his own fears surface.
My analysis follows that of American Conservative Mary Eberstaft author of Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity. Recently interviewed by Triggernometry she reflected on last years’ US riots driven by the ‘primal rage’ of identity politics noting the ‘deep unravelling coming about because so many… people cannot answer that question of who am I’.