Separation-individuation in the small black fish


The aim of this study is to evaluate the life events of Little Black Fish, his reactions to these life events and his feelings within the scope of Mahler’s Decomposition-Individuation Theory, and to discuss the overlapping and conflicting parts of the character’s experiences with Mahler’s theory. Mahler’s theory of separation-individuation, differentiation, habituation, reconvergenceand consolidation of individuality and beginning of emotional object permanence examines it over four subphases. The main character, Little Black Fish, is a small fish that lives with its mother and whose purpose is to leave the stream and reach the sea. Throughout the study, the character of the Little Black Fish was focused on, especially in terms of the last three subphases, and the effects of the problems experienced with the mother on the behavior of the character were discussed. It was thought that the character’s low anger threshold and fear of being swallowed were caused by the inability to establish the predicted relationship with the mother, but this was not a hindering factor for him in the individuation process.

Keywords:Mahler, separation-individuation, Little Black Fish, fear of being swallowed


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the experiences and feelings of the Little Black Fish as part of Mahler’s Separation-Individuation Theory and discussing the overlapping and conflicting parts with Mahler’s theory. Mahler’s theory examines the four sub-stages of separation-individuation as differentiation/hatching, practicing, rapprochementand object constancy.Little Black Fish, main character of the book, is a small fish that lives with its mother and is separated from the stream to reach the sea.Throughout the study, the character of Little Black Fish has been focused on the last three sub- stages and the effects on the character behavior of the problems experienced with the mother have been discussed. It is believed that the character’s low anger threshold and fear of engulfment are rooted in the inability to establish the predicted relationship with the mother however this is not arisk factor in the process of individuation.

Keywords:Mahler, separation-individuation, Little Black Fish, fear of engulfment

Analysis of Mahler’s The Little Black Fish According to Separation-Individuation Theory

According to the psychodynamic approach, it is predicted that the conscious or unconscious experiences of human beings in the early stages affect the rest of their lives (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005). According to Freud, the pioneer of the psychodynamic approach, this period ends at the age of 12 and later, while according to Klein, this period ends much earlier, namely in the first six months (Freud, 1948; Klein, 1952). According to Mahler, another psychodynamic theorist, the period that forms the personality of the child takes place within 36 months after birth. Mahler brought a new perspective to classical psychodynamic theory by establishing different systematics, explaining the Oedipus complex and penile envy from different perspectives, without departing from Freud’s classical theory (Yüksel, 2006). formed the basis of his theory (Tyson & Tyson, 1990; Mahler, Pine & Bergman, 2003). It describes the relationship that a human baby establishes with the objects in its future life, the Oidupus complex and penis envy, the attitude it will adopt in adult civilization, on the basis of the relationship it establishes with the caregiver, during the time that a human baby lives until 36 months of age. The period in question separation-individuationIt is named as (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

Segregation-individuation encompasses two distinct progressions that interact with each other but also involve different symptoms and behaviors. Separation includes the separation of the child from the symbiont phase with the mother, and individuation includes the child’s recognition of his own distinctive features and gaining gains in this regard. It is seen that the developmental delay or early development experienced during these periods has a significant impact on the child’s later life (Topcu, 2016; Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). It is thought that the problems experienced during the separation-individuation period may lead to depression and intra-familial conflicts in adolescence (Topcu, 2016; Güven & Aslan, 2010). For this reason, it can be said that the first relationship that the baby establishes with the caregiver is important.

It is observed that the separation-individuation period starts at the sixth month and ends at the 36th month. The normal autistic phase and the normal symbiont phase experienced in the first six months after birth are called the two antecedent phases of the separation-individuation phase (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

The aim of this study is to evaluate the experiences and emotions of Little Black Fish in the book Little Black Fish within the scope of Mahler’s Separation-Individuation Theory, and to discuss the overlapping and conflicting parts of the character’s experiences with Mahler’s theory. In this context, the stages and the character of the Little Black Fish are focused in detail. Throughout the study, Little Black Fish was considered sexless, however, gender-specific developmental distinctions in the evaluation of Little Black Fish and Mahler’s theory were not mentioned. It is also the precursor of the decomposition-individuation period of the Little Black Fish. normal autisticand normal symbiont period Since it is thought that it would be difficult to make an inference about these two phases, these two phases were not mentioned. The processes expected to be experienced in the first substage were thought to have been experienced by the story character in the second substage, and these experiences, inferences and possible delay reasons were discussed in the second substage. In this direction, differentiation and acclimation subphases are mentioned together. The reason why the book Little Black Fish was chosen in the study is that the character clearly experiences the separation-individuation period and the inferences are much more open to discussion since it is an imaginary character.

Little Black Fish is a children’s story written by the Iranian writer Samed Behrengi and translated into Turkish by Mayis Alizade. The story is about a small black fish who wants to explore the world in general. Little Black Fish is depicted as a character who lives by the creek with his flock, is the only surviving hatchling from thousands of eggs, eager to explore and question. At the beginning of the story, Little Black Fish is mentioned as a fish who does not talk to anyone, does not play games with any of his friends, and wanders after his mother all day long. However, one morning, Little Black Fish wakes up her mother and tells her mother that she wants to leave the place where she is. The mother does not like this situation and opposes her cub. On the other hand, Little Black Fish insists on the idea and says that the stream flows, that this stream eventually reaches other places, and that he wants to explore these other places. Despite the objections of his mother and the rest of the pack, Little Black Fish leaves the stream bed and sets out with the dream of reaching the oceans (Behrengi, 2016). During this journey, his experiences with shoals of fish, frogs, lizards, crab, Ay Dede, pelican and heron, respectively (Behrengi, 2016); The struggle for survival and the motivation to be an individual are explained in a way that children and adults can understand.

In Mahler’s theory, it is predicted that one of the most important determinants of the separation-individuation period is the mother’s communication with the child and the mother’s character (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003; Bergman & Harpaz-Rotem, 2004). It is said that the first relationship between the child and the mother determines the attachment style of the child afterwards and that the attachment style is responsible for the pathologies that may occur in later ages (Topcu, 2016; Tüzün & Sayar, 2006). constitutes a risk factor for the child’s developmental process (Dunbar, 2008). Therefore, when the characteristics of the mother of Little Black Fish are examined; It is said that since the mother does not have another child, she has a great love for her child (Behrengi, 2016). It is observed that the mother never wants to separate her baby from her side, but at the same time, she has narcissistic features. Narcissistic characteristics of the mother; It is understood from the fact that he constantly inhibits the Little Black Fish’s individuation effort by showing his fear of separation on the Little Black Fish, and tries to prevent him from going with pity from time to time. 1996). On the other hand, it is observed that the mother occasionally delays the self-care she will give to her offspring. This is what your mother said in the book when Little Black Fish asked her mother to wake up. : “I slept well. Couldn’t you wait for me to wake up?”(Behrengi, 2016).

The normal autistic stage is the first precursor to the separation-individuation period and this period covers the first month of the newborn. In this period, the newborn provides homeostasis and shows great similarities with the period in the mother’s womb in order to facilitate physiological growth (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). With the birth, the nine-month relationship between the mother and the baby ends and it is estimated that it may be much more difficult for the baby to adapt to the new environment (Atasoy, Ertürk, & Şener, 1996). The role of the newborn in the autistic stage; adaptation to the new environment through physical, mental and physiological mechanisms (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

In the symbiont phase, which is the second premise of the separation-individuation period, it is thought that the baby becomes vaguely aware of the object that satisfies the need as a result of the satisfactions provided by the mother’s care. It is assumed that the infant thinks of himself and his mother as a single individual. Mahler enters this phase symbiote It gives its name because the baby does not yet have the awareness of “me” and “not-me”. In this period, it is observed that the baby forms the basis of his relationships in his future life. It is understood that in this period, the investment in the stimuli that adults easily perceive but that the baby cannot easily understand coming from the outside world begins to increase. In summary, the normal autism stage is objectless; The normal symbiont phase constitutes the first two phases of pre-object undifferentiation and these two phases are stated as the antecedent phases of the separation-individuation phase. (Mahler, Pine and Bergman, 2003).

The separation-individuation period is seen between 6-36 months. differentiation, reconciliation, reconciliationand Consolidation of Individuality and the Beginning of Emotional Object Persistence It consists of four subphases. It is observed that while the inner pleasure of the baby continues in the differentiation stage, the pleasure brought by the relationship with the caregiver also begins to increase and hatching takes place in the last stages of this stage. At hatching, it is seen that the attention directed inward turns outward and increases relatively with the increase in full alertness and communication with the mother. It is said that in the sixth and seventh months, the baby begins to discover the mother with his senses. In order to cope with the absence of the mother, the baby begins to produce solutions suitable for his own temperament. In the absence of the mother, as the baby goes from part to whole by touching and seeing. transition objects uses. Towards the end of this period, the baby notices the tones of the mother’s body, voice, appearance and feeling. It can distinguish the mother from animate or inanimate beings. In the baby, with the increasing awareness of the mother and the distinction between the mother and the non-mother, stranger anxiety is developing. foreign anxiety; it consists of fear, enthusiasm for discovery and curiosity (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). It is said that the low or high level of this anxiety increases the possibility of future pathology (Ainsworth, 1979). However, it is thought that alien anxiety has an evolutionary explanation and is valid not only for human beings but also for other living things (Ainsworth and Bell, 1970).

While the phenomenon of curiosity suppresses the sense of fear in infants who pass the symbiotic stage appropriately, the sense of fear suppresses the phenomenon of curiosity in infants who do not pass this stage appropriately. stranger response causes to occur. Premature or delayed differentiation stage leads to different results in infants. If the mother treats the baby with ambivalence, the baby passes the differentiation stage too early. If she is a mother with narcissistic characteristics, it causes the baby’s symbiont phase to prolong and the stranger anxiety to increase in the future. The baby of a very intrusive and suffocating mother starts the differentiation stage much earlier than it does (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

Between the tenth and seventeenth months, which is the second subphase of the separation-individuation period. practice subphase forms. exercise subphase, first practice periodand main practice period The main feature of the first acclimatization period is that although the interest and concern for the environment outside the mother has increased relatively, the investment in the mother has priority. The relationship between the baby and the mother during the symbiotic period determines how this period will progress. It is observed that children who could not establish enough closeness with their mother and who expect closeness from their mother cannot get pleasure from the outside world because they give all their energy to the attention that will come from the mother, and therefore they enter the practice phase late. It is thought that the lack or abundance of communication between the child and the mother increases the child’s reluctance to separate and the possibility of experiencing internal conflict. This situation may cause a decrease in the pleasure taken from the outside world, and the awareness of the world outside the mother can increase the child’s orientation to the outside world. Yet by focusing the child’s epicenter on the mother, enthusiastic refueling It is observed that it is directed towards the mother. Towards the end of the first acclimation period, the interest in the mother almost disappears and all interest and enthusiasm is directed to the outside world, and this orientation love with the world (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). As a result of the development experienced in this stage, it can be understood that the investment made in the mother is almost completely directed to the outside world. .

The main training period is defined as the state of falling in love with the outside world with the increase in the competence of the child in vertical motion movements. Although the baby’s investment in the mother decreases, the emotional need for the mother continues. This ambivalent situation in the baby fear of being swallowedThis situation is also thought to cause walking away from the mother and the opposite behavior of this. shadow tracking Mahler defined the fear of being swallowed as the fear arising from the thought that the child prevents the mother from individuating. Although these behaviors are observed more intensely in the third substage, the onset of behavior can occur in the second substage. If the baby is not encouraged or encouraged, the target is frightening to the baby and this process does not give the baby pleasure. Especially in cases where mothers show psychopathology, each new target seems to be full of anxiety. The baby cannot move away from the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). From this situation, it can be deduced that the baby has neither the courage to go nor a place to go.

At the beginning of the story, it is stated that Little Black Fish is after her mother all day long, following her wherever she goes (Behrengi, 2016). From this, it can be said that the Little Black Fish is in the second subphase, showing Mahler’s tracing pattern like a shadow.

In the story, as a result of making friends with the snail, Little Black Fish begins to dream of leaving the creek and reaching the oceans, despite the opposition, anger, and threats of his mother and other fish living in the herd. As a result of his discussion with the pack about this issue, the members of the pack want to kill Little Black Fish and Little Black Fish decides to leave the herd despite his mother’s pleas. While his close friends accompany Little Black Fish to the end of the river, Little Black Fish; He leaves the creek, leaving behind his mother, his friends, the fish in the flock who want his death, and the creek (Behrengi, 2016). The fact that the Little Black Fish is the only fish that survives from thousands of eggs of the mother, all the mother’s love and attention is focused on him, and this is the fear of being swallowed by the Little Black Fish. appears to have been created. It can be deduced that the little Black Fish’s desire to leave the creek is a recurring phenomenon by transferring the fear of being swallowed, which is formed in the first bond it establishes with its mother, to other objects and situations. It should not be overlooked that one of the reasons why the mother does not want Little Black Fish to go may be due to her effort to adapt to social pressure.

Little Black Fish stands on the edge of the waterfall that provides the transition from the stream to the lake, thinks, wants to go back, but realizes that he needs to overcome the fear and leaves himself to the waters of the waterfall (Behrengi, 2016). It is understood that this situation stems from the efforts to distance itself due to the fear of being swallowed and the lack of maternal support. It is thought that the children who do not get enough support from the mother, which is stated in Mahler’s theory of Little Black Fish, experience the ambiguous situation created by the longing for the mother with the anxiety of being swallowed and the effort to get away from the mother.

Later in the story, when Little Black Fish first arrives at the lake, he encounters tadpoles. The tadpoles are still immature. The Kocabaşlar make fun of Little Black Fish because he does not look like them. They say that they are the most important creatures of that lake and tell Little Black Fish. dowdy they say. Thereupon, Little Black Fish gets angry at them and says that they are vulgar and their names are very strange (Behrengi, 2016). It can be said that Little Black Fish showed an exaggerated anger outburst after a few negative words to the frog herd, and this happened right after he left the creek, he could not internalize his separation from his mother, and the result of this situation was that he expressed anger and anxiety as Mahler mentioned. For example, for the husbands, rude, smug, snootyand making fun of their names.

With the bigheads continuing to make fun of Little Black Fish, Little Black Fish wants to meet the bigheads’ mothers. The mother of the Bigheads tells Little Black Fish that she humiliates her cubs, that she sees herself as too big, that she will never be able to go anywhere she wants, but that her cubs will be able to wander in the greenery when they grow up. Little Black Fish “Even if you go out of the water to the greenery 1000 times, not 100 times, you are still ignorant”says and leaves the place without letting the frog jump on it (Behrengi, 2016).

It has been observed that the Little Black Fish needs the transitional object Mahler mentioned in the first substage after separation from the mother and shows this need in the second substage. In the story, it can be deduced that the Big Black Fish’s mother is a transitional object that she uses instead of the Little Black Fish’s mother, since Little Black Fish wants to communicate with their mothers and not with their husbands. It can be observed that the little Black Fish continues to have tantrums in the relationship with the bigheads’ mother, and reflects this feeling, which is mainly caused by the fact that her mother does not come with her and does not support her, to the mother of the bigheads, and expresses her anger.

Continuing on his way, Little Black Fish encounters a crab trying to eat a frog. Little Black Fish crab is both curious and afraid of him. When the crab sees him, he greets the crab so that it is not understood that he is afraid. Cancer says Little Black Fish is very kind and asks him to come closer. Little Black Fish doesn’t want to go near him because he thinks the crab might eat him like the frog, and tells him that he wants to travel the world. Cancer tells him that he is too cowardly to come near him. Realizing that the crab is approaching him sideways, Little Black Fish makes fun of his walking and leaves by saying that the crab looks like a frog and is smug (Behrengi, 2016).

In the story, when Little Black Fish encounters a crab in the lake, he gives negative answers to the crab’s requests to call him and does not approach the crab, thinking that the crab will kill him as it did to the frog, which shows that the fear of being swallowed continues in the past. This situation coincides with the idea that the fear of being swallowed in Mahler’s theory may recur at indeterminate intervals until later. In addition, this behavior of the Little Black Fish may be an indication that it has learned to protect itself and that it develops skills such as foresight. On the other hand, it is said that prejudice may arise from directing anger towards the mother to someone other than the mother due to the mother’s restrictive attitudes (Parens, 1979). It may be thought that Little Black Fish’s prejudice towards the crab may be due to her mother’s previous restrictive attitude.

The stranger anxiety and stranger reaction normally experienced in the first substage is experienced towards the end of the second substage in the story character; It can be inferred from the fact that the crab does not approach the crab in any way, the crab responds negatively to all approach requests, and then reflects the thought created by anxiety to the outside as anger and humiliates the crab. According to Spitz (1965), stranger anxiety occurring in the differentiation subphase is the first prejudice felt by the infant and he applies it to the creatures that he does not use as a transitional object.

In the third subphase, the reconciliation phase, the child experiences the development of cognitive abilities and differentiation in emotional life. autonomous personality under the concept. With this period, the child realizes the first stage of being a separate individual. With the realization of the physical separation from the mother, the observations observed in the previous period unaware of the mother situation decreases and separation anxiety in the child increases. It is thought that the separation anxiety experienced at the beginning is caused by the fear of object loss. As the child gains awareness of being apart from the mother, his thoughts about the mother’s whereabouts increase and this increase turns into the child’s need to share each skill and experience with the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

The child invests in energy to self-representation and it is seen that the fact that enables this to occur is the mother’s love for the child. In this period, separation reactions are seen in every child, although it is different. After starting to walk, two basic behavioral patterns are observed in the child: While watching the mother like a shadow, the child also displays avoidance behavior. It is thought that this dilemma arises from the conflict of the child’s fear of being swallowed by the mother and the wish to reunite with the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

It is observed that the love experienced with the world in the practice phase turns into an understanding that he has to deal with everything himself in the third phase. The realization that the world does not act in accordance with the wishes of the child, the helplessness of the child who feels the need for help and vocalizes them, but does not have the ability to obtain them, leads the child to this understanding. It is thought that the child, who is trying to cope with these feelings, wants to share every aspect of his life with his mother. Although it is seen that the psychological need for the mother increases, it is thought that the child is gradually gaining the awareness of separation and resists the behavior of alienation from the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

It is seen that the child’s shadow watching behavior and separation anxiety end with the acquisition of the concept of object permanence. The mother, who was the epicenter in the previous period, is now the person with whom the discoveries are wanted to be shared. The emotional investment of this period is thought to be the desire to share discoveries and pleasures with the mother. However, it seems that the child begins to realize that the mother’s wishes are not always the same as his own. It is thought that this realization shakes up all the feelings of greatness and power that the child felt in the previous stage (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

As the mother’s interest in the child decreases, it is seen that the child’s interest in walking and exploration decreases. The child is gradually becoming aware of the absence of the mother, at the same time, he can focus much more on his own pursuits and it is thought that seeing and coming to the mother is sufficient for the child. To cope with the absence of the mother towards the end of this phase maternal substitution It is observed that she finds objects and tries to suppress the absence of the mother with symbolic games. In this period, anger attacks and conscious alienation behavior occur in the child. It is thought that the problems experienced in the previous substages cause distress in this substage (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). It is thought that the better the communication with the mother, the higher the encouragement and praise behaviors from the mother to the child, the more the child’s exploration of the environment, and the greater the pleasure that the child thinks he gives to the mother.

In the 18th and 20th months, a crisis of rapprochement occurs in children. It is seen that the child has an involuntary desire to get closer to the mother, who fulfills her wishes, while trying to get rid of the mother in order to become individual. Mahler refers to this behavior pattern. double bias gives its name. It is said that the typical behavior of this period is indecision (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). This indecision can be attributed to the dual tendency of the child to be an individual and to need a mother at the same time.

In the third subphase also, Piaget’s object persistence concept is beginning to form in children (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). Object permanence is defined as the cognition that objects continue to exist even though they are invisible (Piaget, 2000). This ability is sometimes strong enough to suppress the anxiety that develops in the absence of the mother, and sometimes ineffective enough to be insufficient. In the absence of the mother, instead of the mother symbiotic mother A person or object with a substitute is placed. However, object division begins; mother is divided into good and bad mother. The good mother tries to protect both the child’s anger and the bad mother. Object fragmentation is seen more frequently and more severely in children who had problems with the mother in the previous substages (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). In summary, in this period, children experience the sadness of not being one with the mother together with the discovery of being an individual, together with the individual differences brought about by the sub-phases of symbiotic life, differentiation and adaptation, they are afraid of being swallowed by the mother as much as they are afraid of losing their mother, they realize their body differences and see what they see missing. reflects across. He continues to make sense of the object, which he divides into good and bad, with an ambivalent point of view.

In the story, Little Black Fish, who continues to walk on the lake, encounters the lizard, recognizes himself, says that he is a knowledgeable and thoughtful person. He tells the lizard that he wants to travel the world, that they are trying to scare him, that he heard that pelican, sawfish and cormorant might want to kill him, and that he wants to learn from him. The Lizard corrects what Little Black Fish misunderstood, tells him to be careful, and gives him a knife to protect himself. He says that with the knife he can slit the pelican’s ladle and save himself from death. Little Black Fish thanks the lizard and says that the lizard is very kindhearted. He asks the lizard if any fish have passed that way before. After giving the answers to his questions to Little Black Fish, he says that the lizard children have woken up and leaves Little Black Fish (Behrengi, 2016).

Little Black Fish encounters a lizard after encountering a crab. It can be said that in this encounter, Little Black Fish used the lizard as a mother substitute, since he left his mother behind at the beginning of the story and went on a journey. When the little Black Fish encounters the lizard, he approaches the lizard positively in contrast to the characters he has encountered before, tries to reveal the good aspects of him with the questions he asks, praises and glorification, the “good/bad mother” division mentioned in Mahler’s theory, and the “good mother” as “bad mother”. It can be likened to trying to protect from the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). the lizard substitution object It is thought that the Little Black Fish may not have experienced the fear of being swallowed, which is one of the reasons why he perceives it as “pure goodness”. Since the lizard does not interfere with the Little Black Fish’s personality and behaviors, it does not cause any fear of being swallowed by the Little Black Fish. The Little Black Fish’s warnings against its behavior and the dangers it may face in the future, and the dagger to take precautions so that the Little Black Fish can almost destroy its anger against the lizard. It can be said that he is increasing his respect for him by reducing it. It can be thought that the fact that the lizard is also a mother may cause this feeling and thought in Little Black Fish, and that’s why she accepted the lizard as a substitute object very quickly. Also, asking the lizard about other fish gives the impression that Little Black Fish has begun to distinguish its own species from other species.

In the story, after the Little Black Fish breaks up with the lizard, he is both frightened and happy that he is no longer the little black fish he used to be. He thinks that with every place he goes, his knowledge increases and it becomes easier for him to make sense of the world. Little Black Fish sees a cute gazelle on his way. Gazelle does not look comfortable, looks around in fear and does not drink water even though she is thirsty. When the little Black Fish asks the gazelle why he is in such a rush, the gazelle tells him that the hunter tried to escape from one of the hunters, that he was shot and that he will drink water and run away. Little Black Fish continues on its way despite being very sad for the gazelle (Behrengi, 2016).

The desire to re-orientate towards the mother and the need to share the discovered beauties with the mother, which are seen in the reconciliation phase, are seen in Little Black Fish with the desire and fear to return due to being away from the mother. It should not be ignored that this fear may be a result of what the lizard tells. In addition, the fact that the Little Black Fish sees the injured gazelle and continues on its way after being sad can be considered as a transition signal to the fourth substage, that it develops “purpose-oriented” behaviors. In addition, the happiness of Little Black Fish at its own differentiation can also be considered as a sign of individuation. The fact that Little Black Fish has empathy for the gazelle and does not confuse it with his own emotions can be shown as a sign of the formation of an autonomous personality. However, it is understood that the foreign anxiety previously seen in Little Black Fish did not appear when it encountered the gazelle.

Along the way, Little Black Fish encounters a school of fish. Talking to them, he says that he came from far away, trying to reach the ocean at the end of the stream. A fish from a school of fish; He asks that where he is now is the river, that there may be a pelican in the continuation of the river, whether he can continue on his way without fear of its scoop. When the little Black Fish says that he is not afraid of the pelican, the other fish admire him and declare him a hero. Some fish determine that they want to come with him, but they are afraid of the pelican, so they cannot come with him (Behrengi, 2016).

It can be said that the support and encouragement given to Little Black Fish by the lizard, which it replaces as a mother substitute, reduced the fear of the Little Black Fish, increased its communication with other fish, and as a result, the Little Black Fish’s pleasure in exploration increased relatively. In addition, the sub-idea that the fearless behavior of Little Black Fish will be reinforced by being approved, appreciated and rewarded by his friends, and the possibility of acting fearlessly from now on, should not be ignored. Studies show that the behavior that is appreciated is more likely to be repeated in the future than behaviors that are not appreciated (McAllister, Stachowiak, Baer, ​​& Conderman, 1969).

In the story, the Little Black Fish continues on its way and falls asleep at the bottom of a dark rock. When he wakes up at night, he sees Ay Dede on top of him. Little Black Fish starts a conversation with Ay Dede. Little Black Fish is very happy to see Ay Dede, and thinks that he loves Ay very much when he is with his mother. He remembers that although he always wanted to talk to Ay Dede, his mother did not allow it. But now Little Black Fish has grown up and his mother is not with him, he decides to go and talk to Ay Dede. When Ay Dede tells him that he wants to know the world, Ay Dede says that the world is very big, Little Black Fish is alone and may face dangers and asks if he is afraid of them. Thereupon, Little Black Fish states that he is afraid but still wants to continue on his way. At the end of the speech, Ay Dede says that the clouds will block his way and disappears. Little Black Fish continues to sleep with the confidence that he will be able to see Ay Dede again later (Behrengi, 2016).

Mahler mentioned in the third subphase double bias The concept of the concept can be understood from the relationship between Little Black Fish and Ay Dede in the story. Ay Dede reminding Little Black Fish of his mother and motivating him to do behaviors that his mother would not allow can be shown as an example of dual-prone behavior. It can be deduced that Ay Dede may be a mother substitute who does not try to swallow her in the eyes of Little Black Fish, and that she wants to exhibit the behavior of being afraid but still wanting to see everywhere, which she told Ay Dede, is an example of double disposition. Wanting to talk to Ay Dede, expressing that he loves her very much, and respecting her thoughts can be given as examples of Ay Dede being described as a mother substitute. In addition, the awareness that Dede Moon does not disappear when he goes behind the clouds can be considered as an indication that the Little Black Fish has begun to develop object permanence, which is Piaget’s term, and it can be considered as a sign that he is ready to move on to this fourth subphase. On the other hand, it can be thought that the social support that he received from Ay Dede, known as the “masculine” together with the crab he used to replace the mother, facilitated the individuation of the Little Black Fish and supported object permanence, thus reducing his fear of the pelican.

The fourth and final phase of the decomposition-individuation period consolidation of individuality and beginning of emotional object permanence is happening. In this subphase, the first of the two phenomena that children must realize is to reach individuality; The second is said to be gradually reaching object permanence. In this substage, the child gathers his good and bad aspects together and combines his unique features with the features taken as a model from the environment and creates his own individual identity (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

It has been stated that in this last subphase – the third year – the child is reinforcing and learning to suppress the anxiety caused by separation from the mother, to create a holistic representation by combining object continuity, good and bad objects, to trust himself and the other person (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

Mahler’s concept of object permanence includes Piaget’s concept of object permanence. The prerequisite for the formation of object permanence in the child is the formation of object permanence (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). Piaget’s concept of object permanence begins with the perception that the mother image continues to exist even though the mother is not in the environment (Baillargeon, 1986). According to Mahler, once the child has developed object permanence, good motherand bad mother He melts his representations in a pot. A single child mother representation This is called object permanence. A situation that reveals the good or bad relationship between mother and child is related to object continuity (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). According to Bell (1970), if children’s object permanence occurs before person permanence, the relationship between mother and child is good; On the contrary, it can be deduced that the relationship between them is not compatible. From this, it can be deduced that emotions are more intense when developing person permanence, positive emotions help individuals while developing object permanence, and negative emotions cause negative effects while developing object permanence.

According to Mahler, the concept of object permanence is a continuous concept and varies from culture to culture. It can be said that towards the end of the fourth substage, children can express themselves verbally more easily, maintain object permanence, develop their cognitive abilities compared to the previous substages, and are more active in their goal-directed behaviors, so that individualization begins in children (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003). .

Towards the end of the third year, children’s ability to organize time and spatial perception develops together with the behavior of delaying gratification. On the other hand, it can be said that the mother’s being consistent and stable has positive effects on the formation of the child’s self-concept. The fact that the normal development is too early or too late may cause the child to experience the expected fear of swallowing much more. It can be said that the child spends all his energy to protect his personality from the mother. Normally developing children can be helped by object permanence and object permanence when the mother is not in the environment. inner motherThey can relax themselves by using the image of the mother and the intrapsychic representation of the mother (Mahler, Pine, & Bergman, 2003).

In the story, Little Black Fish wakes up and is overjoyed to see tiny fish waiting for him outside. Small fish express that they want to come with him, but they are still very afraid. Little Black Fish laughs and says that he is afraid, but he is trying to overcome the fear, and they all set off together. Before they get too far, it gets dark and Little Black Fish quickly realizes that they are in the bucket of the pelican. He tells the other fish to explain the situation and not be afraid, they will find a way out. The little fish cry and start blaming Little Black Fish, whom they had previously declared a hero. Meanwhile, the pelican laughs and makes fun of the fish. The other fish beg the pelican, praising him and trying to persuade him to let them go. The little fishes say that it is all the fault of Little Blackfish, that he has convinced them, and they set the pelican against the Little Blackfish. The Pelican promises that if the little fishes punish Little Black Fish and kill him, he will let them go. Little Black Fish accuses the other fish of being a coward and tries to convince them that the pelican is lying and won’t let them go even if they kill him. Little Black Fish has a plan to get out of there, but he can’t convince the other fish. The little fishes attack the Little Black Fish and they ask the pelican that they have killed him, to let them go now. But the pelican does not keep his word and devours them. Little Black Fish does not die, commemorating the lizard with gratitude, he pierces the bucket of the pelican with the knife he took from it and jumps into the water and starts to run away. Little Black Fish is very happy to be free again and is very sad for them because his friends do not listen to him (Behrengi, 2016).

At the beginning of the story, it can be understood that Little Black Fish has gained cognitive abilities such as thinking, embarrassment, mocking, and being friends from the communication with the frog herd on the way out. When the Little Black Fish encounters a flock of frogs, it attributes the frogs first as good and then as bad. This situation can be perceived as a sign that Little Black Fish could not complete the object permanence phenomenon.

It can be said that the time-space perception that is expected to develop in the fourth substage develops in Little Black Fish while in the second substage, and that it can manage cognitive thought processes much earlier. This judgment can be reached from the fact that in the story, Little Black Fish sees that the waters coming from the stream meet in the lake and can deduce that the waters that meet in the lake will flow into the sea from there.

In the story, when the pelican swallows Little Black Fish and other fish, against the other fish’s accusations against Little Black Fish, Little Black Fish’s sense of “me” is not harmed in any way; It can be deduced that the Little Black Fish will point to the blending of good and bad features and to gain object permanence in the perception of “I”. In addition, it can be said that the definition of self in Little Black Fish is not dependent on the definition of outsiders and that he has full confidence in himself. In addition, the absence of any disruption in the plans made by Little Black Fish despite external accusations can be considered as an indication that the emotional regulation is developed in Little Black Fish. In addition, the Little Black Fish did not change its behavior or thinking in any way, even though the other fish were praising the pelican. autonomous meIt can be predicted that the concept of the concept is formed relatively and it is less affected by external factors.

Later, Little Black Fish’s planning to get rid of the pelican’s pouch and applying it step by step may be an indication that his cognitive abilities have improved compared to the first substages. In addition, the Little Black Fish said to the other fish during the pelican’s provocations and the other fish trying to kill the Little Black Fish: “The pelican has already swallowed us, it won’t get you back no matter what.” (Behrengi, 2016) can be perceived as an indication that Little Black Fish establishes a cause-effect relationship and shapes its behaviors accordingly. In addition, with the reduction of the fear of being swallowed and the development of his cognitive skills, the Little Black Fish is one step closer to freedom and individuality by using the dagger from the lizard to cut the pelican’s pouch.

It is thought that Little Black Fish integrates the concept of object permanence, which he gained much earlier, with the concept of object permanence towards the end of the story. Despite the fact that other fish, who see him as a hero, later attribute him as a bad, selfish and thoughtless fish that causes them to enter the pelican’s pouch, their sadness for their death in the pelican’s pouch can actually be interpreted as melting the concepts of “good” and “evil” in a pot and integrating them as a single object. .

Little Black Fish finally reaches the sea and is very happy about it. Little Black Fish encounters a sawfish and manages to get rid of it thanks to his alertness and agility. Afterwards, he chats with a school of fish he encounters. He says that although the members of the flock invite him to the flock, he likes this offer very much, but he wants to wander in the sea by himself, and he can come to them later. Although herd members warn him against cormorants, Little Black Fish leaves by saying that he has been through a lot of troubles and that the cormorant can’t do anything to him (Behrengi, 2016).

It can be predicted that Little Black Fish experiences emotional object continuity, with the enthusiasm that Little Black Fish experiences when it reaches the seas and the knowledge that it has gained object continuity before. Despite the early differentiation stage and the late separation anxiety, Little Black Fish is thought to have stepped into individualization by showing the behavior patterns expected to be seen in the fourth substage and relatively healthy in the individualization process. An example of this is the fact that other fish respond positively to the request of adding them to the flock, without showing any anger or anxiety, and yet say that they want to live individually. On the other hand, the desire to wander alone can be interpreted as Little Black Fish’s desire to discover the width of her own self, and it can be said that this is a sign of overconfidence. Besides, the fear of being swallowed, which is always felt throughout the story, is more than normal in the symbiotic universe between the mother and the Little Black Fish. It can be deduced that this is due to less development.

At the end of the story, Little Black Fish is very afraid of death, but he thinks that the important thing is to live and that it is very important for him that other fish respect him, when he is attacked by the cormorant and can not escape despite his struggles. Little Black Fish tells the cormorant that he is a poisonous fish and that if he swallows himself, he can die from the poison. Although the Cormorant does not believe this, he could not take the risk and when he saw that the Little Black Fish was not moving, he opened his beak, and the Little Black Fish swallowed it again as soon as it fell into the water. He sees a tiny fish crying in the cormorant’s stomach. He gets angry and tells him not to cry, that his mother cannot come, he will save him and kill the cormorant. The little fish doesn’t believe him. Little Black Fish takes out his knife and says he wants to save the little fish first and saves the tiny fish. The little fish awaits the Little Black Fish. At that time, the cormorant starts writhing, struggling, screaming and falling into the water, but the Little Black Fish is never heard from again (Behrengi, 2016).

The ability of the Little Black Fish to suppress its own fear of being swallowed in order to save the tiny fish can be shown as an example of the behavior of delaying gratification. Being able to act purposefully, being aware of more complex concepts such as respect and expressing himself comfortably can be an indication that the Little Black Fish has completed the separation-individuation period as envisaged. The fact that Little Black Fish was never heard from again at the end of the story is a metaphorical indication that the character has completed his self-development and learned to protect his “I” against external interpretations and criticism, and this is thought to be a method of emphasizing the individualization of the character.

To summarize as a result of the above; In this study, it is aimed to examine the decomposition-individuation process of Little Black Fish on the basis of Mahler’s theory and literature findings. It has been observed that the relationship between Little Black Fish and her mother created a fear of being swallowed, and as a result of this fear, the idea of ​​​​going to other lands was formed. It is observed that he experiences anger and anxiety from time to time due to the negativities experienced in the normal symbiotic phase of the journey, and that the stranger anxiety and foreign reaction, which are also seen in the phases other than the foreseen phase, recur from time to time. It was thought that these cases decreased after the relationship he established with Crab and Moon Dede, and thus he could complete their substage development in a healthy way. It is thought that the development of cognitive functions such as the concept of place-orientation, object permanence and emotional regulation, which develops earlier than expected in Little Black Fish, is a protective factor for Little Black Fish.

In the study, the main character was evaluated as genderless, and the places related to gender in the theory were not emphasized. It is thought that in future studies, different inferences can be obtained with the gender role attributed to Little Black Fish. In addition; While evaluating Little Black Fish, the author’s life story, the period he lived in and the environment were not included in the analysis. If future studies are evaluated in this context, it is predicted that richer results can be obtained. Finally, throughout the study, Little Black Fish was considered in the zero-three age range. In subsequent studies, it is thought that evaluating the story on the basis of separation-individuation problems experienced in adolescence based on Mahler’s theory will bring different perspectives to the literature.


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