On Latency: Individual Development, Narcissistic Impulse Reminiscence and Cultural Ideal

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Latency is a developmental period that plays a transitional role, like "a bridge", between early childhood and adolescence (the beginning of early adulthood). However, the latency period is a subject that has not been studied enough in psychoanalysis in recent years.Most of the psychoanalytic frameworks that have built on and extended Freud's work have focussed their attention either on the understanding of the child's early development (the early dyadic and triadic relationship of the infant and the early organization of the mind), or on the understanding of adolescent development, when sexuality explodes - accompanied by all unconscious libidinal elements from the early organization which were repressed in latency. As a result, interest in the latency period has been put in the shade: left dormant as its definition would imply.The aim of this book is to raise a number of relevant questions, which have not received much attention in psychoanalysis up to now. To this end empirical findings are related to conceptual elaboration in order to advance knowledge. The book shows convincing evidence that this kind of work can contribute to a better understanding of cultural pattern influences on the child's emotional development process in latency, in particular contributing to an elaboration of psychoanalytic concepts for this period.

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CHAPTER 1: Introduction

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

Latency is a developmental period that plays a transitional role, like a bridge, between early childhood and adolescence (the beginning of early adulthood) and although it is of interest in being a point in child development with both a previous reference
to early childhood, and a later referenceto adolescence, the latency period is a subject that has not received sufficient attention in psychoanalysis in recent years. Most of the psychoanalytic frameworks that have built on and extended Freuds work have focused their attention on understanding the early development of the child, the early dyadic and triadic relationship of the infant, the early organization of the mind (as a way to reach an understanding of psychotic states and the Oedipus complex), or on an understanding of adolescent development when sexuality explodes accompanied by all unconscious libidinal elements from the early organization (Etchegoyen, 1993) which were repressed in latencythus the interest in the latency period has been put in the shade: left dormant, as its definition would imply. There are a number of definitions of latency, however the word is rarely used with any identifying qualifications (Sarnoff, 1971). Two of the definitions commonly used are:

 

CHAPTER 2: Latency

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CHAPTER TWO

Latency

Freud was the first to distinguish a psychodynamic developmental period in the childs life, between the ages of 7 and 10, naming it latency. His original definition was:

[T]he latency period is characterised by the dissolution of the Oedipus Complex, the creation and consolidation of the superego and the erection of ethical and aesthetic barriers in the ego.

(Freud, 1926b: 114)

The latency period starts with the decline of the Oedipus complex. The consolidation of superego and the development of some defence mechanisms (negation, repression, and sublimation) are the most significant features of this period. Consequently, the alliance between superego and defence mechanisms provides the basis for further developmental tasks, such as character formation, social integration, and learning abilities. Thus the re-organization of the defences per se is responsible for giving some degree of stability to latency. Through them the reactive formation of morality, shame, and revulsion are structured. In this case, the repression of the sexual libidounder the domain of the superegowill provide the child with the means to develop his or her conscious and pre-conscious abilities to deal with the external world. Sublimation will be the basis of the socialization process, since the sexual instincts are drawn from the sexual target and projected towards social objects, which, in turn, increase in their social value. It is not by chance that children usually begin to be literate around the age of six years. The latency period has a correspondence with the concrete operationsa crucial stage in Piagetian theory of cognitive development (Piaget, 1947, 1954, 2008), in which there is a huge development in cognitive abilities. According to Piaget (1947, 1954, 2008), at early latency the child begins with a progressive decentralization: the reasoning changes from the specific (in psychoanalytic terminologywith a certain experience of the narcissistic type of object choicedyadic narcissist relationship) to the broad (in psychoanalytic terminologyrole of triangulation).

 

CHAPTER 3: Central concepts for understanding the latency period

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CHAPTER THREE

Central concepts for understanding the latency period

The aim of this chapter is not to discuss well-known psychoanalytic concepts in detail, or bring up anything new, but rather to offer an overview of Freuds theory and his view of latency and to follow that by discussing psychoanalytic frameworks that have built on and extended Freuds work. The key point is to provide an overview of key concepts and beyond that to point out where the authors agree in spite of their different views.

3.1 Oedipus complex

On this matter, the major concern is to examine Instinct Theory and Object Theory, specifically concerning the beginning of the triangular relationship. The agreement concerning the Oedipus complex resolution is the key point here, since its resolution not only marks the start of the latency period but also marks the fact that social adaptation means leaving the triangular relationship behind.

3.1.1 The classical theory (Freud)

The Oedipus complex in Freuds work constitutes the principal subject matter of psycho-analysis and the foundations of its theory (Freud, 1923). Although the concept and relevance of the nuclear complex were present from the beginning of Freuds work (discovered through Freuds own self-analysis) the term Oedipus complex does not appear until 1910a special type of choice of object made by men. According to Freud, the Oedipus complex is a universal phenomenon that emerges between the ages of three and five (named by him as the Oedipal phase of libidinal and ego development or also phallic phase ) and its resolution marks the beginning of the latency period. The Oedipus complex can be defined as the organized set of loving and hostile desires (group of mostly unconscious ideas and feelings centering on the wish to possess the parent of the opposite sex and eliminate that of the same sex), which the child feels in his or her relationship with their parents (Laplance and Pontallis, 1967) and which is closely related to the castration complex, especially with its prohibitive and normative function, which will contribute to superego formation. For the boy, the castration threat terminates the Oedipal conflict and the boy is forced, out of fear, to abandon the wish for the possession of his mother in rivalry with his father. For the girl, the awareness of castration (or the lack of a penis) confirms the threat of castration and initiates the Oedipus complex. She is forced to give up the wish for a penis in relation to the first love object and turns to the father as her love object, wishing for babies instead of the penis. According to Freud, the resolution of the Oedipus complex consists in giving up the desire to possess the parent of the opposite sex under the pressure of repression in identifying with the parent of the same sex (Etchegoyen, 2002). In the Freudian framework the concept of the Oedipus complex is the central element and has a basic role in the building of the personality structure as well as in the orientation of human desires. Although this concept has been revised and elaborated in current psychoanalysis, it is as relevant as in the beginning, especially in relation to ideas about the role displayed by triangulation in mental health and social adaptation. The role of the father and the relation to the Oedipal father is at the centre of Freuds anthropological writings as well as in the development of the ego ideal concept.

 

CHAPTER 4: On group psychology and on culture

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CHAPTER FOUR

On group psychology and on culture

Cultural identity building and cultural transmission are intrinsically connected to the comprehension of group psychology and its dynamics, particularly in what way the concepts of ego ideal, cultural ideal, narcissism, and superego are related to one another. This chapter, which discusses these ideas, is therefore unquestionably central for this essay. First, we provide some notes on Freuds understanding of group psychology, followed by the comprehension of group psychology in the field of therapeutic work and culture by later authors.

4.1 Group psychology and culture: Cultural ideal, ego ideal, narcissism, superego

The main elements of Freuds contributions to social anthropology appeared for the first time in Totem and Taboo (1913). Going into questions of social control, instinct drives (incest, cannibalism, and lust for killing), and the use of prohibitions and social taboo in the achievement of this control, Freud turned to the origin of social and cultural demands.

 

CHAPTER 5: Research

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CHAPTER FIVE

Research

Mental Representations of Parents and Family Structure of First Grade Elementary School Children from Two CountriesBrazil and Germany: Similarities and Differences

(Franieck, 2005)

The study explored differences between German and Brazilian latency children (with a mean age of 7.4) in their socio-cultural identity, emotional organization, and the quality of their identification with parental figures, using a standardized semi-projective play assessmentMacArthur Story Stem Battery (MSSB). The main questions were whether German and Brazilian children differ in the way that they portray family processes in their play and whether these differences are paralleled in the attitudes of parents from the two countries. We hypothesized that there would be cultural differences in the attitudes of Brazilian children and their parents, compared with German children and their parents. The possible role of parents as a cultural filter in explaining cross-cultural differences was also examined. The aim of the design was to recruit children at the middle of the latency period from similar social backgrounds but from contrasting cultures.

 

CHAPTER 6: Discussion

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CHAPTER SIX

Discussion

6.1 Answering the questions

The empirical data of this study reveals new aspects for the understanding of identity building in the transitional period of middle latency where the parents display a crucial role as a cultural transmission agency. In this process relevant questions were brought up (see the Introduction), mainly as regards the interfaces between cultural identity buildinggroup identityand individual identity, which includes the integration of individual psychological events,[1] cultural ideal,[2] and narcissistic impulse reminiscence.[3] Before we look into these questions in detail, it is essential to distinguish four central points.

First, it must be kept in mind that all of the discussion here is based on empirical data from non-clinical samples, and thus the core focus adopted is on cultural identity building and not based on any clinical approachdespite the awareness of the limitation to the application of the theoretical approach (Deutsch, 1964). We defend the idea that individual human psychology cannot be separated from group psychology, not only because the mind is needed to establish relationships with objects, but also because the individuals relationship to the object is an essential part of the mind itself (Caper, 2001):

 

CHAPTER 7: Summary

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Summary

The aim of this essay was to bring up a number of relevant questions for a psychoanalytic understanding of some aspects of latency development which have not been focused on very much in psychoanalysis up to this point. In particular, to Freuds question (Freud, 1925: 37n) as to whether the latency period is an innate universal phenomenon connected to the prolonging of biological immaturity which characterizes human development or whether it is restricted to repressive cultures in which the infantile and immature sexual behaviour is subjected in order to be kept under control. The features of cultural identity formation, alongside the influences of cultural patterns, at the middle of latency (68 years old) were addressed. Establishing links between empirical data, psychoanalytical conceptual elaboration, and social psychology, opened up a new perspective on latency development. A new understanding of the Oedipus complex resolution was proposed and two new concepts were introduced: cultural idealdefined as an agency that replaces the ego ideal, and narcissistic impulse reminiscencean unconscious reminiscence of the dual orientation of narcissismone in the sense of achieving individuality, and the other towards fusion. These perspectives in our view can contribute to a further elaboration of psychoanalytic concepts for this period.

 

APPENDIX

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APPENDIX 1

QuestionnaireFOPEI (Franieck and Gnter)

APPENDIX 2

Assessment of children

MSSB scales and factors

Table 2. Descriptive and comparative analyses of no difference between the groups.

Brazilian
(N = 41)
Mean  SD

German
(N = 41)
Mean  SD

*p-value
Mann-
Whitney

Representation
of threat and anxiety a =  0.89

1.057   0.618

0.918   0.494

p = 0.391

Weak parents a   =  0.76

0.423   0.580

0.458   0.507

p = 0.388

Narrative coherence

5.690   1.190

5.630   1.000

p = 0.549

Poor internal control a = 0.73

0.420   0.430

0.320   0.360

p = 0.493

Negative parents
representation  = 0.83

0.550   0.380

0.430   0.270

p = 0.202

a   =  Cronbachs Alpha Coefficient ( a   >  0.70). The significance level was set at 5% (p  <  0.05).

Note: Narrative Coherence doesnt have Cronbachs Alpha Coefficient due to its being composed of just 1 item.

Table 3. Descriptive and comparative analyses of significant difference between the groups.

Brazilian
(N = 41)
Mean  SD

German
(N = 41)
Mean  SD

*p-value
Mann-
Whitney

Narrative competence and
social empathy a   =  0.87

4.298   0.865

3.915   0.699

p = 0.028

 

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