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Chapter 6. The Power Motive in Late Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

Lord Acton’s famous dictum “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” is as true today as on April 5, 1887, when he wrote this phrase in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton. Pertinent examples are easily recalled concerning leaders of the greatest of nations throughout history to the smallest of modern institutions.

There are many definitions of power, 1,2 but a psychoanalytic definition as it arises in adolescence and young adulthood includes the focusing, channeling, control, and mastery over inner drivenness, helplessness, acquisition of knowledge (Foucault cited in Rawlinson [1987]) of oneself, the world, and one’s creative talents, but also certain capacities for leadership to compel obedience by and dominance over others.

PHILOSOPHY OF POWER

Foucault combined his concept of power with knowledge, saying that power produces knowledge and they imply each other (Rawlinson, 1987). Furthermore, Rawlinson contends that power is fundamentally productive. Nietzsche (1886), like Hobbes (1651) before him, contended that power was a basic drive in all human beings and was the essence of the basic human drive. It is the “primitive form of affect, that all other affects are only developments of it” (p. 366). Curiously enough, Nietzsche’s idea of will to power seems to be related to Freud’s drive theory, but it is not to be confused with Adler’s term will to power (1956), which he borrowed from Nietzsche but interpreted to be a compensatory structure for organ inferiority or feelings of inferiority that he considered to be a neurotic striving beginning in early infancy and childhood.

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Chapter 2. Identity

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Etymologically, the word identity is derived from the Latin idem and the suffix tas or tratem. The noun expresses “the quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration; absolute or essential sameness; oneness” {Compact Oxford English Dictionary).

The concept of identity in psychoanalysis has been neglected in recent years (Gray, 1990), and remains unintegrated into the main body of psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice. Erikson (1956) popularized identity as a psychosocial and developmental term—identity crises and identity diffusion-to describe occurrences in late adolescents and young adults. These problems commonly occur late in the college career, after graduation, or for those who entered business without attending college or technical school when career choice and sexual object choice are experienced as overwhelming developmental tasks. Parent loss and other traumatic overstimulating, abusive experiences in childhood, whether sexual or physical, are risk factors leading to vertical splitting in the ego that in turn gives rise to clinically observable splits in identity (Shengold, 1980). The phase specific task of this transitional period of development, according to Erikson’s life cycle schemata (1959), is intimacy versus isolation; for example, when some young people are so frightened by the prospect of initiating intimacy that they withdraw from normal socializing with others, while others’ efforts to socialize result in repeated failure and lead to increasing disappointment and disillusionment. For Erikson (1982) identity formation is:

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Chapter 4. Intimacy

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

Erikson’s concept of the normative developmental task of achieving intimacy versus isolation (1950, p. 229), is not limited to a sexual relationship. In addition, it refers to all those capacities of young adults for emotional closeness, trusting self-disclosure, mutual respect, joint problem solving, lessening ambivalence for the love object, and giving that person sufficient room to develop his or her potentials to the fullest. It also refers to sharing and resonating harmoniously with each other’s deepest emotions of joy and sorrow and not engaging in destructive draining of the loved person’s sharing of themselves. It is, in short, a relatively unambivalent relationship involving mutual love. Erikson’s statement that young adults achieve intimacy only after they “emerge from their identity struggles” (p. 229) seems valid enough. Although, in-depth clinical observations would suggest that intimacy achievement simultaneously occurs alongside identity formation, and that the two tasks are the most important phase specific developmental tasks that young adult people are confronted with. In young adulthood, as well as throughout childhood and adolescence, there are different forms of intimacy with parents, siblings, friends, and peers.

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Chapter 1. Psychoanalytic Assessment of Young Adults

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

Psychoanalytic assessment of the personalities of young adults implies the study of certain intrapsychic states which are taken up in this chapter in terms of clinical and developmental issues (Rapaport and Gill, 1959). Assessment of young adults by the psychoanalytic method must, first of all, take into account how well any individual has succeeded in negotiating and working through the phase-specific tasks and conflicts associated with late adolescence (Spiegel, 1961; Adatto, 1980), and by inference all previous phases of development (Bios, 1962). Transition from late adolescence to young adulthood (Eisenstadt, 1956; Block with N. Haan, 1971; Vaillant, 1977; Levinson, Arrow, Klein, Levinson, and McGee, 1978; Arnstein, 1989) may be a relatively continuous, unconflicted growth process (Offer and Offer, 1975), or mark identity achievement status (Marcia, 1980; Holland, 1985; Josselson, 1989). My clinical experience with late adolescents and young adults suggests that most, if not all, are concerned with phase specific tasks, which often become involved in conflict that in turn produces clinically observable symptoms. It is true my clinical observations are derived from a skewed patient population, but my observation of nonpatient populations (including my children, those of my colleagues, and close friends) is that similar issues arise in nonclinical instances with more or less frequent if transient symptom formation.

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Chapter 3. Gender and Sexual Identity

Brockman, David Dean Karnac Books ePub

The terms gender identity and sexual identity in the psychoanalytic literature are confusing at best, but the definitions in Money and Ehrhardt’s (1972) classic book Man and Woman Boy and Girl are helpful and elegant in their simplicity. They speak of psychosexual differentiation beginning with the prenatal period of embryonic development and continuing throughout the postnatal period of social and psychological development. They emphasize the theme of a complex interaction of hormones, chromosomes, genes, and environmental influences. Their emphasis on their experience with hermaphrodites and pseudohermaphrodites, and the presence of a suitable penis to guide them in making decisions about sex reassignment, has been seriously questioned by Diamond and Sigmundson’s (1997) long-term review of the case of a boy as well as by an editorial (Reiner, 1997). Gender identity is defined by Money and Ehrhardt “as the sameness, unity, and persistence of one’s individuality as male or female (or ambivalent) in greater or lesser degree, especially as it is experienced in self awareness of behavior. Gender identity is the private experience of gender role and gender role is the public expression of gender identity” (p. 284). In Zucker and Bradley’s (1995) experience, gender identity is taken very seriously by preschoolers in their affective responses to questions if they belong to the opposite sex. Gender disorders in children, usually males, often lead to adolescent and young adult homosexuality. In special cases, psychoanalytic therapeutic intervention can felicitously transform this trajectory from a gay orientation into a solid heterosexual one (Greenson, 1966; Haber, 1991). Most researchers in this area, including Tyson (1998), use a model consisting of gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation. Gender role refers to ‘ ‘behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that a society, in a given culture and historical period, designates as masculine or feminine social role” (Zucker and Bradley, 1995, p. 3). This includes in young children same-sex versus opposite-sex affiliative preference behavior, “fantasy roles, toy interests, dress-up play, and interest in rough-and-tumble play” (Zucker and Bradley, 1995, p. 3). Sexual orientation refers to how a person responds to sexual stimuli.

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