This week I want to finish off the trilogy of Anxiety, Anger and Depression. (They are all part of the same family tree of emotions coming of the central trunk of fear of being annihilated.) Firstly, however, it will be helpful to define some terms. The image on the left is of a mother breast feeding her baby. In psychoanalytic language the breast is known as an object and forms a central tenet in analytic thinking and writing. This gives rise to what is known as objects relations theory. The idea being that the mother’s breast stands for the whole process of nurturing, being fed, being cared about. The baby’s experience of the breast will include the smell of its mother, an awareness of her feelings, a sense of being the centre of the universe- albeit briefly! All these feelings are encapsulated in the word “object”. The theory goes on to suggest that this external breast- object- morphs into an inner representation. Thus the experience of being nurtured in real life is taken in by the infant as an inner experience. So the infant of an anxious mother will acquire a sense that the world is not a safe place. That he or she is also unsafe- that at any moment a disaster will occur which will overwhelm them. A child of a depressed mother may well acquire a sense of low self worth due, in part, to a mother who was too preoccupied with her own concerns to care about her baby.As the baby grows up it will find that it makes choices that seem to confirm their view of themselves.This can be expressed in all manner of ways .At the extreme end is suicidal depression running through to paranoia and Manic depression. These are linked to the inner world and the individual’s relationships with its internalised objects.
Mike who finds it very difficult to hear anyone who does not agree with his view of things. (The fear being that everyone is intent on stopping him pursuing his dream career.)
Jane who cannot allow herself to be angry for fear that everyone will reject her if she shows he true feelings about something or someone.
Marie who is a compulsive carer who has to rescue anything or anyone in distress. Less from compassion and more from a complex mix of fear of her own anger and a terror of being unloveable.
In all these cases their actions and activity comes out of a difficult inner world. Their relationship with their inner objects is conflicted. This makes the activity of living a difficult one.
In part 2 of this blog I will focus on depression and one way of thinking about it.