This is a variation on an old theme.
In reading Freudian psychological explanations--couched as they are in terms of interplays between the ego, id, superego, and the like--one is led to ask, where is the person in all of this? That is not true of Control Mastery Theory. One can conceptualize the developing person from the explanations provided, at least in part.
Freud crudely characterized life as consisting of love and work. CMT accurately describes the "love" component of a person's life. That is, it provides an accurate picture of how childhood beliefs that have an interpersonal focus impact on a person's subsequent quests for love and an ability to love. CMT also provides a picture of how interpersonal beliefs derived from childhood can impact on the "work" component of a person's life, thereby inhibiting a person from pursuing a desired career. As far as I can see, however, it provides no explanation whatsoever of the developmental realities associated with the "work" component in itself, and therefore tends to skew its explanations of how this and the "love" component interact. The effect of these skewed explanations is to create the impression that developmental realities associated with the "work" component are of no consequence.
What I am saying is that a child develops not only interpersonal beliefs, but intra-personal beliefs, too, beliefs about the talents it has and the kind of work life that is open to it. Pathogenic beliefs in this realm act dynamically every bit as forcefully as pathogenic beliefs of an interpersonal nature. Furthermore, it is possible for an innocuous intra-personal belief to become pathogenic as the emerging person outgrows beliefs based on early identifications.
A case in point arose recently in the Clinical Case Conference concerning a certain "Kathy." The case involved several "paradoxes" that, to my mind at least, were not adequately explained by appeals to interpersonal pathogenic beliefs. Much in the case hinged on Kathy's talents as an artist and writer.
I believe that it is the compelling nature of the need to love and be loved that makes interpersonal pathogenic beliefs crucial obstacles in life--they seem to cut off a person from what the person cannot live without. Furthermore, I see talents as also being compelling forces in a person's life and intra-personal pathogenic beliefs as therefore being similarly detrimental.
Partially because of early criticism of her talent, Kathy let her identification with her mother sway her to choose motherhood as her career, to the exclusion of her writing and her art. The compelling nature of these inner realities, however, prevented her from being completely happy as a mother. In the Case Conference, I argued that her abortions and subsequent "depressions" were related to her need to loosen her commitment to motherhood so that her art could regain a rightful place in her life. Part of the reason this had to be approached unconsciously was that Kathy didn't know how to reconcile the two and perhaps feared that a full commitment to her art might completely undermine her commitment to motherhood.
In the argument, I invoked the name of Erik H. Erikson as someone who appreciated the importance of intra-personal developmental forces. Yet Erikson seemed to believe that these forces were important mainly in the lives of the extremely talented, whereas I find them to be important to "ordinary" folk, too. I think of "talented" people as being those whose identities have become polarized. Since the whole of their identity seems subjectively to be involved in the realization of a talent, they come to feel the weight of this force and its attendant pathogenic beliefs more powerfully than "ordinary" people do. What makes people "ordinary," I feel, is that their talents are diffuse, involving several areas of their life. Slighting one does not create an all-or-nothing identity crisis. Nevertheless, hurtful intra-personal pathogenic beliefs operate here also, and need to be recognized to obtain a balanced concept of the developing person in therapy.
I have made many runs at this same topic. Have I been more clear this time?
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