Mirrored Narcissist Gazes At YOU How Do Other People Exist

Uploaded 9/14/2023, approx. 51 minute read

I'm completing the manuscript to my new book and I'm glad to inform you that I found a publisher. And I thought it's a good time to give you a glimpse into one of the innovations in this forthcoming book, "Mother's Gaze".

But how the mother's gaze generates the child, makes the child become, creates the child's unconscious and later on shapes the child's self. All this with the mother's gaze.

The same way a 3D printer would print out an object, a mother scanning her child time and again with her loving, sometimes adulating, caring, compassionate, holding, containing gaze.

A mother creates the child, renders the child a being, a person.

So this is today's topic.

And then when this process goes awry, we have narcissism.

And how does this affect you as the narcissist, intimate partner, friend, family member? How does this failure in maternal gaze affect you? How does it impact you? How does it change your life? How does it shape the interaction between the narcissist and you, aka shared fantasy? And what does it render the narcissist? What does it make the narcissist into?

The narcissist is, as I keep saying, not fully human. Critical components and modules are missing.

How does this manifest in a relationship, in an interpersonal relationship, linking it backwards to the mother's gaze?

This is the topic of today's video.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CIAPS, Commonwealth for International Advanced Professional Studies, Toronto, Canada, Cambridge United Kingdom, Outreach Campus in Lagos, Nigeria.

So before I proceed, before we start with the topic of today's video, I owe you a correction. I got something wrong in one of my last videos and I wish to thank the viewer who alerted me to this. I welcome any constructive criticism and any amendments to any mistake that I may be making.

So I made a claim in one of my recent videos that psychopaths can deceive a lie detector. They can pass a lie detector test. That is not true. I was relying on a study by Ruskin and Hare. Hare is the father of the modern conception of psychopathy.

And so I relied on the study dated 1978, not realizing that the study has been criticized the very same year by Lycan and later on debunked multiple times over the ensuing decades.

Psychopaths, exactly like non psychopaths, cannot deceive a lie detector. They cannot fake a lie detector test. They cannot pass a lie detector test while lying because a lie detector test measures impacts in the body that are connected to the autonomous central nervous system.

However, another claim that I've made is absolutely true and well substantiated over 70 years of studies. And that is that people are not good at detecting liars and lying. People cannot detect liars and lying. This is beyond debate and beyond doubt in the scholarly literature.

Okay, let's delve right in.

I received a fascinating comment from someone who calls himself the coach.

"Sam, if you came across Narcissus laying there by the pool, would you try to pull him out or just leave him be?"

"I'm not sure myself," says the coach.

" interested to hear your take, though."

That's a fascinating topic because it goes straight to the heart of Narcissus.

The inability to perceive, the separateness or even the external existence of other people.

Narcissus inhabits a world of one. There's only the Narcissus.

Others are passing penumbral shades. They're not real. They are peritions. They are like ghosts in the Narcissus' mind. This is the demon in the Narcissus machine. These are the ghosts in his mind.

Other people.

The Narcissus is incapable of perceiving entities as external.

So what he does, he converts them into internal objects and he continues to interact only with these internal objects.

But he did too, in well over 1,200 videos, I didn't go deep into the question of how does this glitch happen? Why this bug in the Narcissus software? What happens?

And today I'm going to deal with it.

Before we proceed, I'm going to use the word gaze.

Gaze is not a physical fact. It's not like, "Here's to looking at you." It's not like a stare. It doesn't involve the eyes necessarily.

A gaze is any caregiving, compassionate, holding, containing, loving, idealizing, and sometimes adulating attitude. This is a gaze.

When the mother gazes upon her newborn child, she gazes at the child not only with her eyes, but with her mind's eye, with her love for the child, with her bonding, with her attachment, with her caring, with her dedication.

And this is the mother's gaze when the mother, of course, is a good enough mother. Later on, we will discuss what happens to the mother's gaze.

So gaze is actually the interpersonal interaction between two people.

We are all subjected to the gaze of others.

The newborn baby, helpless, half formed, still forming, as it is, critically depends on his mother's gaze.

But I personally believe that many of the giants of the field, including the likes of Winnicott, got it all wrong because they forgot that the infant has no conception of itself. The infant doesn't realize that it exists. The infant doesn't acknowledge its own separateness.

So when the infant gazes into the mother's eyes, the infant can never see itself. Never. That's a mistake.

Because the infant is incapable of perceiving its own existence. He doesn't know that it exists.

There is a stage that used to be called a symbiotic phase where the infant and mother and the world are all one.

So when the infant gazes at the mother's eyes, he doesn't see himself.

Infant has no conception of self, of others, of the world. It has no apprehension or comprehension of external and internal. It doesn't make this difference, this distinction. It doesn't differentiate.

It is therefore initially unable to identify itself in the mother's gaze.

That is a crucial mistake in the work of most of the giants in the field.

When the baby looks into the mother's eyes, it sees nothing because it sees everything. It sees a mass, an undifferentiated mass. And this mass doesn't include the child because the child doesn't perceive itself as separate from the mass. It's not that the child is a component of the mass or an ingredient of the mass. This undifferentiated mass is all there is.

When the child finally recognizes itself in the mother's gaze, the child experiences a trauma. It is a schism, a break in the world, the emergence of the other.

And the initial other is the child itself.

The first other person the child comes across is the child itself.

Initially when the child looks into the mother's eyes the first few months of life, the child sees nothing there because it sees everything there.

Mother, the child, the world, everything is one. This is just undifferentiated chaotic mass.

But later on things begin to break down. Suddenly the child recognizes someone else in his mother's eyes. And that someone else is actually the child himself.

By the way, when I say himself, it is herself. Of course, yes, it applies equally to female babies or female infants.

Now this is a very big difference in my work compared to the work of Winnicott, object relations schools from Melanie Klein to Gantrip and Fairburn.

This is absolutely what I'm saying is not acknowledged or accepted in any of the schools of psychology, mainstream psychology.

But I think these people, these scholars didn't think it true.

So there are three phases of gaze.

The first phase, the child looks into the mother's eyes and sees an undifferentiated mass.

It does not see itself.

This is not self perception.

And it has no self, no constellated or integrated self to perceive.

The second phase, the child suddenly realizes that there is someone there in the mother's gaze. That someone in the mother's gaze is the other.

But who is it in the mother's gaze?

It is the child himself.

So the child self alienates. The child is estranged from itself.

There is the child and there is the child's reflection in the mother's gaze, the first primordial other.

And this creates an enormous trauma because the initial undifferentiated mass suddenly disintegrates, breaks down.

Mother begins to realize that there is internal and external himself and mother, someone out there, someone in here, the whole world collapses into clumps that are mutually exclusive.

And this is absolutely terrifying.

It's a trauma.

What do we do when we are traumatized?

We reject the trauma. We repress the trauma. We forget the trauma, amnesia. We dissociate it.

That's exactly what the child does.

Having perceived itself in the mother's gaze, the child experiences the trauma of the bi-centrally world, of the disintegration of the world.

This is a trauma that is too overwhelming even for an adult, let alone a helpless, needy, dependent newborn child.

So what the child does, it rejects the mother's traumatizing gaze.

It perceives the mother as a source of frustration. It perceives the mother as the agent that brought about the breakdown in his erstwhile, unitary, comforting, safe, stable universe, the world.

Mother is angry at the mother. There's aggression there.

So the child rejects the mother and her traumatizing gaze.

He pushes her away, but it is exactly this act of pushing mommy away because she is traumatizing me.

Exactly this act causes the child to realize the mother's existence as an external object.

The child pushes away the mother so clearly she is external to the child.

He realizes the mother's externality.

It is the child's first experience at object relations.

Not a very positive experience, but still there's a dawning, dawning realization that mother is not me. There's me and there's mother. There's me, this internal introspective experience and there's mother, the other out there, an external object.

Moreover, it's a frustrating and traumatizing and hurtful object.

So it's an object over which I have no control.

The symbiosis breaks down, dissolves, disintegrates.

And ironically, it is precisely this rejection that leads to differentiation.

It is the first instance of proto-separation.

Lacan called this aperception, aperception, a form of self-objectification, ambivalent self annihilation, self alienation.

I'm sorry, Lacan said that when the child beholds itself in a mirror, when the child sees itself in a mirror, it realizes that there's someone there in the mirror, but it doesn't know that this someone in the mirror is the child itself.

But of course, you're not in the physical mirror for that. The mother is the initial, the primitive, the first, the proto-mirror.

When the child beholds itself in the mother's gaze, the child breaks down.

There is me, internal, innate, and there is someone out there in the mother's gaze.

And that someone out there, is it me?

Is it not me?

And this is Lacan's aperception.

The child objectifies itself.

It says the other child in the mother's eyes, in the mother's gaze, that other is an object.

The child self alienates.

It's as if the child divorces its own reflection.

This is very early on.

It's around the age of six months to 12 months.

Lacan suggested that the unconscious, the seat of repressed traumas, is a compendium of other people's gazes.

Now I'm going to repeat this because this sentence is crucial to my work, actually.

Lacan said that the unconscious is an anthology, a collection of other people's gazes, the information that we gather and glean from the way other people perceive us.

Other people as individuals, other people as collectives, society itself.

So there's a gaze of society via socialization.

And we internalize all this. We introject it. We identify with it. We incorporate it and it becomes us. Introjects are representations of this process of formation of the unconscious.

And we perceive introjects as egosyntonic. We perceive introjects as part of who we are. We don't perceive them as alien or estranged or external to us.

These voices become us.

And this is what Lacan said.

The unconscious is simply a collection of all the people that have ever meant anything to you and became a part of you via the process of introjection.

But I want to add to this, in my work, I add to this another layer. And this one is borrowed from Freud.

The unconscious is also a collection of repressed trauma, traumas, multiple.

In other words, the unconscious is a collection of voices, gazes, gazes of other people.

The unconscious is the other or the others.

On the one hand.

And on the other hand, the unconscious is also the seat and repository of all of life's repressed traumas.

And this is the linkage that I found which allowed me to develop my work.

The mother's gaze in my work is the cause of the formation of the unconscious.

It is the mother's gaze that creates the initial unconscious.

The mother's gaze, remember, traumatizes the child because the mother's gaze informs the child that there is something or someone out there.

The mother's gaze breaks the world for the child.

The mother's gaze reflects the child so the child realizes there's something or someone out there and rejects the mother.

And as the child rejects the mother, this separation becomes even more acute.

The differentiation, the distinction between the child and the rest of the world becomes incontestable, undebatable.

This is a major trauma.

The child represses this trauma.

It is the process of repressing this primal trauma that creates the unconscious.

The mother's gaze and the trauma induced by it are the two pillars that when put together create the unconscious.

Now I've put all the pieces together.

The child beholds itself in the mother's gaze, this traumatizes the child, the child represses the trauma in the gaze.

These are the two components of the unconscious, the trauma, repressed traumas and other people's gaze.

So this creates the unconscious.

In a few months of life, six to twelve months, the child has made leaps and bounds that are nothing less than astonishing but also cataclysmic.

The child's symbiosis disintegrates.

He begins to perceive external objects. He begins to initially objectify himself and other people. He perceives the existence of the other. He is traumatized. He rejects his mother. He develops the unconscious.

What is this primal trauma that we are talking about?

I keep mentioning that the mother's gaze traumatizes the child.

What is this trauma?

It's the trauma of being seen.

The child is seen through the mother's gaze.

So why does the unconscious emerge to resolve the existential dissonance between the need to be seen and the traumatic impact of being seen?

Initially the child, the infant, the newborn, is critically dependent on the mother.

The child needs to be fed, needs to be sheltered, needs to be attended to, needs to have skin contact, needs to be loved, needs to be held.

The child in short needs to be noticed and needs to be seen.

A child who is not seen is a dead child.

So the need to be seen is a survival strategy, but it has a cost. It carries a cost with it.

Whenever the child is seen, the child is reminded of the existence of the external world. The child is reminded that mother is an independent, autonomous, agentic entity outside the child's control and sphere of influence.

The child develops extreme abandonment, anxiety.

The child needs to develop object constancy.

The child has to cope with the fact that being seen is also being set apart, being separated.

The only way to be seen by mommy is to become a separate object. The only way to be noticed by mommy is to push her away. The only way to be taken care of by mommy is to set oneself apart from mommy.

So the cost is enormous.

The oceanic feeling of being one with the world and one with mother, the very fact that the child is incapable of perceiving separateness, externality, this is very comforting.

This imbues the child with a sense of safety and stability and the ability to cope with the existential dread, the angst of being 1000% dependent on someone else.

And here there is a conflict, there is a dissonance.

For the child to be seen, the child needs to separate. For the child to be attended to by mommy, the child needs to push himself away from mommy.

Mommy's gaze, being seen by mommy, informs the child of its own separateness.

Let's the child know that mother is an external object, an object that can abandon him any minute. It's terrifying. It's a mega trauma, the likes of which one never experiences again.

So this creates a dissonance.

The child wants to be seen but is terrified of the trauma attendant upon being seen.

To resolve this existential dissonance between the need to be seen, which is a survival strategy, and the trauma of being seen, the child invents the unconscious.

Conscious emerges to solve this dissonance.

The trauma of being seen is repressed in the interest of survival.

Unconscious is formed as a container, as a repository, as a space within which the child can deposit the trauma of being seen and enjoy the benefits of being seen without being re-traumatized time and again.

Unconscious is the mechanism that the child uses to continue to separate itself from the mother and not experience existential dread, anxiety, terror, and trauma.

This is the solution known as the unconscious.

And now the child is ready to objectify and instrumentalize the mother.

Now that the child has perceived the mother's externality, her existence as an external object, its own separateness from the mother, the very fact that there's a world out there, the child is ready to proceed to stage two, which is objectification and instrumentalization of the mother as a mirror.

The mother now truly becomes a mirror.

The child beholds itself in the mother's eyes.

Child is able to form a well-informed view of itself, concept of itself, delineation and demarcation and illustration of itself using the mother's eyes as incontrovertible mirrors.

But why use the mother's eyes? What in the mother qualifies her to become the first, the proto-mirror, her love for the child, her gaze, the function of caregiving?

So the child feels safe. The mother is a secure base. Child feels safe to use her gaze, to use her as a mirror.

The child knows that if he were to look into the abyss, the mother's eyes, the abyss is not going to look back at him.

The child is not afraid to venture forward into the mother's eyes and it is the first time the child takes on the world, attempts to explore the universe, discover things beyond the child.

And this of course gives rise to personal boundaries.

The mother's mirroring function via her loving gaze allows the child to safely explore the exterior of the world out there and realize the boundaries between itself and that world.

And again, the mother's gaze is a secure base.

It's a safe environment.

For the child to behold itself in another person's gaze, not the mother, there would have been the risk of psychosis because exactly as Nietzsche said, when you gaze into the abyss, sometimes the abyss gazes back at you.

Hyper-reflexivity, the mechanism at the heart of psychosis, is an attempt to deny the mirror.

The mirror is threatening and terrifying. You deny the mirror. You say, "The world is me. There's no external. Everything that's happening in my head, my voices, they're all external.

And because my mind is externalized, then there's no me in the world. There's no distinction. I'm one with the world.

This is the perfect merger and fusion with the world. It's a regression to the pre-mirror stage, to the stage where the child still perceived everything as a single mass, undifferentiated when the child did not separate and did not have a self-perception because he didn't have a self.

That is psychosis.

But when the child studies itself, studies mommy, explores the world, discovers external objects via the mother's gaze, there is a sense of safety. There's a secure base.

This gives rise to primary narcissism, the healthy kind, the kind of narcissism that persists into adulthood as the foundation for a sense of self-worth, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-regulation, and most importantly, a self-concept.

That is Jung. That's not Vaknin.

This introversion is intimately connected with narcissism in Jung's work.

Anyhow, the mother actively reflects the child to herself. And what does she reflect to the child? Does she reflect a true fact-based picture of the child?

Not because she loves the child.

So she reflects the child and the child an idealized, aggrandized image of the child.

This is very, very crucial.

Early narcissism, ironically, is founded on the wrong information. It involves grandiosity because at age 18 months or two years, you have to be seriously grandiose to take on the world, to separate from mommy, to explore the next-door neighbor, to climb up a tree or to try to climb up a tree. To let go of mommy and move into the world adventurously, you need to have an impaired reality testing, a misperception of a proportion between you and the world. You need to perceive yourself as much bigger, much larger than you are, much more powerful than you are.

In short, you need to be idealized.

Early narcissism, primary narcissism relies on the mother's idealizing, fantastic, aggrandizing gaze.

The mother broadcasts to the child through her gaze, "You are godlike. You're perfect. You're amazing. I love you, no end. You are ideal."

And this empowers the child, energizes the child, and the child says, "Well, I have become a god through my mother's gaze." It's an apotheosis. I have become a god and now, and it's an epiphany. It's religious. It's a religious experience. I have become a god.

And now, I'm ready to let go of mommy for a short period of time, of course, and explore the not-mommy, explore everything that is not-mommy.

And this is what I call the Hall of Mirrors effect.

The mother reflects through the child, through her gaze, an image of the child which is not real, which is grandiose, which is idealized, thereby misleading the child to believe that it has the capacity to take on the world safely.

This is what renders her a secure base, to borrow a term from attachment theory.

This affords the child the grandiose energy to take on the world and to affect the world, to emotionally invest in the world.

The mother's proactive benevolent gaze, idealizing gaze, is synonymous with her secure base status.

And it gives rise to healthy attachment, healthy narcissism, mental health in general.

We need to transition as children through this phase of narcissism, laughable grandiosity, being idealized and loved essentially unconditionally, adulated and admired, albeit passively.

We need this.

Then reality pushes back.

The friction with reality informs us about boundaries and limitations.

It's a later stage in life.

Mother's gaze engenders in the child this capacity to venture forth, separate from her, become an individual, a process known as separation individuation.

The mother gaze is another very important function known as mentalizing.

The mother's gaze informs the child of the fact that the mother is external to the child, is not the child.

So the child has to develop a theory about who is money.

If money is not me, who is mommy?

And this initial proto theory is the first phase of a process known as mentalizing.

Mentalizing is perceiving other people as separate to you, external from you and with their own mind and state of mind.

And the mother's gaze triggers mentalizing in the child.

And once it's triggered, it persists.

The child uses mentalizing to form theories of mind about other people, especially significant others.

And later on, a theory of the world known as the internal working model.

The mother's gaze is also, as I said, the initial primordial form of object relations.

Object relations are the relationships that people have with other people.

Other people are perceived as objects, yes, in psychology.

But this is object relations.

It is founded on the separateness of other people, on other people being external to you and on secure attachment.

Object relations are founded on attachment to other people.

The attachment is insecure.

The object relations are disrupted.

If the attachment is secure, object relations are healthy.

The mother's gaze, the loving mother's gaze, the good enough mother's gaze, to use Winnicott's phrase, the mother's gaze teaches the child to relate to other people as if they were secure basis, as if they were copies of mummy.

So the child learns other people are separate to me. Other people are external objects. They are not me.

And other people are safe. They're secure basis. They're not going to hurt me. They're not going to hurt me. They're not going to traumatize me.

And this all comes through the mother's gaze, although the trauma attendant upon the mother's gaze initially is repressed and forms the foundation of the unconscious.

This is when the mother is loving, when the mother is what Winnicott called good enough.

What about a dead mother, Andrei Green coined this phrase in 1978 to describe mothers who are absent, who are depressive, who are selfish, who are instrumental, who instrumentalize the child, who parentifies the child, who pedestalize the child, idolize the child, use the child to realize their own fantasies and dreams, etc.

These are dead mothers. The dead mothers, because they don't care about the child, they objectify and instrumentalize the child.

They don't see the child. They see what the child can do for them.

Therefore they see the child as a nuisance to be rid of.

So there's no process of gaze with a dead mother. A dead mother has dead eyes. She has no gaze.

The child, when he looks into the eyes of such a mother, physically or metaphorically, when he looks into her gaze, when the child tries to latch onto her gaze, to decipher her gaze.

In other words, when the child tries to attempt to use the dead mother as a mirror, he cannot see himself because the dead mother doesn't see him. He cannot even see the world because the dead mother doesn't see the world. He cannot also see the mother because these kind of mothers are empty inside. They are black holes. They are voids. They don't exist. There's nothing there.

What the child sees in the dead mother's gaze is the infinity of deep space, the devouring of the black hole, the predatory nature of the world, the symbiosis that is undisturbed and undistrupted, the merger and fusion and enmeshment that never give rise to separation and individuation. It's very sick and this kind of child fails to develop a concept of the external, fails to embark on operative object relations and never constellates and integrates a self or even an ego.

Such a child is also incapable of mentalizing because he doesn't develop his own states of mind. He doesn't perceive himself because there's no self.

This kind of child cannot attribute states of minds to other people. This is known as non-mentalizing. I'm going to deal with it in a separate video soon.

So there is a disruption in the process of mentalizing.

The child remains stuck in primary narcissism, which as time passes becomes pathologized, becomes malignant. It's a kind of narcissism that is known as secondary narcissism, adulthood narcissism. And it's bad because it doesn't allow the narcissist to separate from other people. It doesn't let the narcissist individuate.

So what the narcissist, the grown up narcissist, offers his partners, including his intimate partners, is the wall of mirrors effect because that's where he's stuck. He's stuck at the wall of mirrors effect.

The mother's gaze should have provided him with a wall of mirrors, but he didn't because the mother was dead.

So the narcissist tries to recreate this with his partners, especially his intimate partners, and he offers them the whole of mirrors effect.

He says to them, you can conceptualize yourself through my gaze. You can see yourself idealized and loved unconditionally and accepted through my eyes. Look at my eyes, says the narcissist, and I will mirror you, but I will mirror you the way you've always wanted to be. I'll mirror you the way a loving, functional mother, good enough mother mirrors.

So the narcissist force advertises, he says, I can be a good enough mother to you. I can idealize you. I can energize you to explore the world safely. I can be a secure base. I can offer you the wall of mirrors effect.

Yes, but that is not true because the narcissist has never experienced the wall of mirrors effect. Narcissist has never separated, never individuated, never saw itself through the mother's gaze or her mirror was never seen.

The narcissist cannot offer this to his partner or intimate partner. He cannot mentalize her. He cannot have an object relations with her. He cannot perceive the partner as separate, external with our own mind and states of mind.

And emotions and cognitions and hopes and dreams and wishes, he cannot perceive this.

As far as the narcissist is concerned, she is a figment, a figment of his imagination, an internal object in his mind. It's a manipulative game within his mind. It's all self-contained.

So when he offers the partner to be a mother, to become a maternal figure to her, he is unable to conceive of her. She doesn't exist and it never progresses beyond grandiose cathexis.

Emotional investment in the grandiose fantastic idealized image, which has nothing to do with partner is not real.

This causes in both partners, in the narcissist and in this partner, causes them to regress, to become infants again, because it triggers the original trauma that has been repressed and had become the unconscious.

The narcissist taps into his partner's unconscious by regressing her to the phase that she had has been, that the phase where she has been seen for the first time.

The narcissist takes the partner by the hair, pulls her by the hair and regresses her to age, I don't know, six months, 12 months, 18 months.

It's a time when the partner, when the narcissist partner has first been seen by her own mother or caregiver. And so she goes through this phase again, but this time there's no protection against the trauma of being seen.

In a way, the partner exports, outsources her unconscious to the narcissist and he becomes her unconscious. That's why the narcissist is able to activate introjects in the partner to form coalitions with other introjects, to team up with other introjects, because he is granted unmitigated access to the partner's unconscious, where the first trauma of having been seen by a mother figure has been repressed.

Of course, being seen by the narcissist triggers this trauma, but while the original mother was helpful, loving, compassionate, and so the trauma was easily repressed with the narcissist. There's no such thing.

So the trauma erupts full force.

This is the core of trauma bonding.

At the same time, the partner herself is converted into a dead, frustrating, withholding, betraying mother. A mother who mirrors herself, who mirrors the world, but never the narcissist.

At least initially. And then later, a mother who is incapable of mirroring the world or herself because she has been demolished by the narcissist.

So the narcissist is also traumatized or re-traumatized by his partner because he renders her, converts her into his original biological real mother. The only mother he's ever known.

This is why the narcissist's hope, attempt to separate an individual from this new mother, the intimate partner.

These attempts are reasonable.

The stupid.

Because he doesn't convert her, the intimate partner, into a good enough mother. He converts her into a dead mother, exactly as his mother has been.

And so the deadness of the intimate partner induced by the narcissist and her constant trauma because she is seen by the narcissist, but not loved by the narcissist.

These undermine the shared fantasy and the narcissist converts his intimate partner into a persecretary object.

This is the core of my work. And my work differs from the work of others such as Fornaji and Lacan and Winnicott, many, many others. It differs. And I hope I succeeded to explain how it differs.

Now I'm going to make a much, I believe, a longer video on these topics, which would be a bit academic. But I want to give you some glimpses and some access and some insights into the topics I'm going to discuss in this next video.

I'm going to start with empathy.

Empathy has been linked to mirror gazing.

Remember the concept of the mother as the mirror and later on the mirror in Lacan's work and the mirror in my work.

So empathy has been linked to mirror gazing.

I refer you to work by an article by Giovanni Caputo. And I want to read to you the abstract.

The article is titled Empathy and Mirror Gazing.

The abstract says a relationship between empathy and self-directed behavior during mirror gazing has been hypothesized by some authors.

Nevertheless, how these concepts may be connected is still an argument or a debate.

Previous research on mirror self-recognition may not completely account for the fascination produced by mirror gazing.

In fact, gazing at one's own face in the mirror for a few minutes at a low illumination level can produce the perception of bodily dysmorphic visual illusions of strange faces.

Strange face illusions may be the projection of the subject's unconscious contents into mirror image of the basis of somatic, motor, mimicry and contagion.

This is by the way the primal trauma that I've been discussing.

Motor mimicry and emotional contagion can operate through the feedback produced by the mirror within the observing object.

The projection of unconscious content, that's my primal trauma, the primal trauma that I mentioned, the projection of unconscious content can characterize empathy according to early ideas of Ein Führer, the German term for empathy.

Empirical research shows correlations between susceptibility to strange face illusions in both the fantasy and empathy, empathic concern, subscales of interpersonal reactivity index IRI. And this was published in Psychology and Neurobiology of Empathy, edited by Douglas Wort and Pankse was published by Nova Science Publishers in 2016.

So Caputo says actually what I've been saying for over 10 years, being seen by the mother is a trauma, I call it the primal trauma because it breaks the world.

It teaches the child that the mother is external to it.

And so the world breaks at least in two pieces and then in many more pieces, becomes a kaleidoscope.

It's very traumatic.

And what Caputo says is that this trauma can be projected onto the mirror and result in self-perception as ominous, strange, terrifying, a horror figure and so on.

So that's why I mentioned Hegel had a concept known as negation of the negation and I'm using it in my work.

The identity of the self and the determination of an object outside the self both require Hegel's negation of negation.

So in my work, there is the child as an undifferentiated mass. Let's call it child-mummy world. World-mummy child, it's one thing. It's not even symbiosis. It's like the child dissolves into the world and the world dissolves into mummy and mummy is the world. It's one thing. It's all one thing.

I mean, many Eastern traditions would appreciate this state of nirvana in a way.

And so this is the first stage.

Then there's negation.

The child negates itself when it sees itself in the mirror or in the mother's mirror, in the mother's gaze.

It is traumatized and the child rejects the mother, rejects the gaze, rejects itself.

It's a recoil.

It's a total reaction.

It's like PTSD.

The child is terrified and this would be the negation in Hegel's model.

And then the child negates the negation because it has to survive. It needs to be seen by mummy. It realizes that if it were to reject mummy and reject the gaze and reject the world and everything, then it would die.

So it negates the negation.

It negates the previous phase.

And this negation of the negation is what is colloquially called the unconscious and later on object relations.

So I'm using Hegel's negation of negation. I'm not going to it in this video, although I will go into it in my next video.

I also claim that empathy is a form of healthy narcissism.

Empathy is a self-contained internal set of processes triggered by the presence and by the self-reporting of another person.

Empathy involves two confabulated self-deceptions.

Self-deception number one, that the internal experience of empathy is actually external, has to do with that other person. That that other person triggers the empathy.

It's not totally internal. It's externally triggered. It's not true. It's a deception.

And number two, by the way, this confusion between internal and external objects is a form of psychosis, actually.

And the second self-deception involved in the classical perception of empathy or colloquial perception is that the experience of empathy is altruistic, that it is focused on the other person.

But in reality, empathy is solipsistic. It revolves exclusively around self-centered emotional regulation and cognitive processing.

Empathy is all the hallmarks of healthy narcissism.

Now, I have two videos dedicated to this, and I'll place the links in the description.

Those of you who want to delve deeper into the issue of empathy. I'm mentioning empathy. I mentioned Hegel's negation of negation and all this because these emerge as the inevitable outcome of the interaction between the child's nascent ego or self or whatever in the mother's gaze.

Now, you know that I don't believe in a unitary self, but it doesn't matter. The assemblage of self-stays is the same. The mother's gaze is an external boundary condition. It's a determinant. It gives rise to the unconscious. It shapes the self. It creates the child. There's no child without the mother's gaze.

So this is why phenomena such as empathy are crucial.

If you perceive of empathy as an externalizing emotion, like aggression, you know, aggression is externalized. Empathy is externalized.

If you perceive empathy as externalized. This undermines almost everything we know about developmental psychology.

So I need to tackle the issue of empathy, and I will do so in this more academic video in the future.

I received a fascinating email from William de Graaff.

William de Graaff created an application, an app with all the transcripts of all my videos up until the end of April. So there's this app. You can download it on Google Play. And there's this website, And William de Graaff wrote to me, having watched my video on behaviorism, he wrote to me, "I read some interesting literature on behaviorism earlier in the week." He referred me to some Twitter link.

"I also wonder if this behaviorism approach is connected to Phonogies' teleological form of non-mentalizing in his model, which also has interesting links to Kloninger's phylogenetic research on human personality. So I'm going to deal with all these issues in the next video.

I'm going to explore automaticity, mentalization, phonogies, non-mentalization, and so on and so forth.

But I want to make a few initial comments.

Automaticity is probably the wrong model for human behavior.

But equally, rationality is the wrong model for human behavior.

Human-bounded rationality is an optimistic approach and probably counterfactual.

I'm going to deal with all that in my video.

Phonogies' teleological non-mentalizing feeds not only humans, but for example, animals. So in many ways, it is tautological. It's the outcome of observations. So it's like we observe behavior, and then we make deductions based on our observations of these behaviors when these behaviors actually are in themselves observations. So it is second order observations. Definitely leads to infinite regression. It's tautological in the best case. And I'm going to analyze the non-mentalizing concept.

Phonogies' non-mentalizing concept. I'm going to try to demonstrate how erroneous it is.

The existence of a goal, because one of Phonogies' non-mentalization concepts has to do with teleology. So there's an assumption of a goal, goal orientation.

But the existence of a goal implies, perforce, the existence of intentionality that's France-Guentana and vice versa.

So you cannot divorce behavior from a state of mind. You cannot say, well, there's mentalizing and then there's non-mentalizing.

Non-mentalizing is simply the inability to conceive of the existence of states of mind in other people and goal orientation.

So you can't divorce it too.

I'm going to go much deeper into this criticism in the next video.

What we cannot be sure of, I admit, is the existence of goals.

And this is why teleology is a bobbyman in science.

But we equally cannot doubt the existence of state of mind. And I'll try to explain why in that video.

I want to finish by quoting extensively from the work of the biggest of them all, Winnicott.

I disagree with him. I just explained to the whole video to explain where I differ and diverge from Winnicott.

But he's still the foundation upon which we all work.

So I'm going to read to you what he had to say.

In individual emotional development, the precursor of the mirror is the mother's face.

What does the baby see when he or she looks at the mother's face?

I'm suggesting that ordinarily what the baby sees is himself or herself.

And this is, of course, where I differ, I beg to differ with Winnicott.

Because I don't think the baby has a conception of herself or himself.

And therefore, the baby cannot see himself or herself in the mother's eyes or mirror.

That's completely wrong in my opinion.

This is an anachronism. This is projecting backwards.

Adults have cells. Babies don't.

OK, but I'm going to continue reading.

In other words, says Winnicott, the mother is looking at the baby and what she looks like is related to what she sees there.

All this is too easily taken for granted.

I'm asking that this, which is naturally done well by mothers who are caring for their babies, shall not be taken for granted.

I can make my point by going straight over to the case of the baby whose mother reflects her own mood or worse still the rigidity over on defenses.

In such a case, what does the baby see?

If the mother's face cannot reflect him, the infant does not look into the mirror anymore.

Instead, he binds up looking at the mirror.

Of course, nothing can be said, continues Winnicott. Nothing can be said about the single occasions on which a mother could not respond.

Many babies, however, do have to have a long experience of not getting back what they are giving.

What he says is that a single event is not going to damage a baby.

It has to be a long exposure to a dead mother.

OK, Winnicott continues.

The babies look and they do not see themselves with the dead mother.

They are consequences.

The baby gets settled into the idea that when he or she looks, what is seen is the mother's face.

The mother's face is not then a mirror.

So perception takes the place of a perception.

Perception takes the place of that which might have been the beginning of a significant exchange with the world.

A two-way process in which self-enrichment alternates with the discovery of meaning in the world of seen things.

This is the magnificent magisterial book, Mirror Role of Mother and Family in Child Development article in one of his books.

So this is Winnicott and I will expand on Winnicott and Fonagy and others in a future video.

At this stage, I wanted to explore my work and demonstrate to you how it differs from the older perceptions.

Babies are born. They are not blank slaves.

We know that by the way, Winnicott was a pediatrician when he has written most of his work. He only much later acquired a degree in psychoanalysis. He's never had a degree in psychology actually.

So those of you who are very much into credentials and academic degrees, forget it.

Most of the contributions to psychology were made by people with no degree in psychology.

As simple as that. Fact, check it out.

Okay, let's continue.

The baby is born, it's not a blank slate.

To differentiate itself, to form boundaries, to constellate and integrate at first an ego which guides him with regards to reality and then later a self, the baby needs feedback.

And only the mother is there to reflect the baby at itself, to let the baby see itself in her gaze, which is like a mirror.

And this traumatizes the baby because the baby realizes, "Oh my God, I'm separate from mommy. She can leave me at any minute. I am not the world."

It's terrifying. It is this trauma that causes the child to form the unconscious and to bury the trauma there.

That's where the trauma is buried.

In the trauma is attached to the mother's gaze because the mother's gaze created a trauma.

So both the gaze and the trauma are buried in the unconscious.

And then the baby continues to do the same with other people.

Gradually, the unconscious becomes very rich. It includes hundreds of introjects and voices.

And so this is what Lacan said, that the unconscious is the other.

Others in the mind, they form the unconscious.

And so this is how I see things.

The baby then learns to bury the trauma, but benefit from the gaze.

The mother's gaze is idealizing, aggrandizing, fantastic and fosters in the baby primary narcissism.

Grandiose and godlike as it has become, the child then takes on the world.

As it takes on the world, reality pushes back and he learns his limitations, his boundaries, and the existence of external objects, other people with whom he later on goes to develop a relationship.

Relationships, death's object relations. It's all predicated and dependent crucially on the mother.

A good enough mother would accomplish all this for her child and he would grow up to become a relatively functional and balanced adult. She would serve as a secure base. He would, this kind of child would have a secure attachment style.

But a dead mother would not provide the mirroring necessary.

So the child would never separate, would never become.

And so this kind of child cannot mentalize other people. He cannot perceive other people. He's external with their own states of mind and cannot develop object relations.

So this kind of child comes a narcissist in attempts, in repetition compulsion to reenact this failed stage of mirroring separation and individuation with intimate partners as he goes along.

Of course, all these fails.

It fails because the child turned adult has never had experience with a hole of mirrors, with mirroring, with separation and individuation is unable to reenact something that he has never experienced before.

And this is the shared fantasy and it's dismal outcomes, both for the narcissist and for his partners or intimate partners.

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