The Effect of Love on Personality Development

In this compilation I have prepared, I have touched upon different theories to examine the subject of “love”. The introduction of the review will start with Freud and Maslow’s theories of love and gradually move towards the love between mother and child. My aim in this review is to try to show the role of the bond of love between the mother and the child in the personality development of the child.

  • Sigmund Freud

“Freud considers love as “the reflection and exaltation of the sexual instinct”. According to Freud, life instinct (Eros), death instinct (Thanatos) and libidinal energy are the source of human love. In spiritual situations where the Eros instinct is dominant, sexuality begins to dominate and the needs for love, affection, sexual satisfaction and contact emerge. (Freud 1968, Reported by Özen, Gülaçtı 2010)

Freud’s concept of love meets the needs of love, sexual satisfaction, and contact.

  • Abraham Maslow

The need for love and belonging, which is in the third step of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a need that emerges after physiological and safety needs are met. If this need is not met, people feel abandoned and alone. This causes them to suffer. According to Maslow, there are two different types of love. One of them is the love of existence and the other is the love of lack. Maslow says that the love of lack must be satisfied first.

“The person who can survive and survive now wants to be loved, to feel belonging, to be accepted. This is where the world’s people hang out most: the third step. Where billions of people live in turmoil. When people find it difficult to find the love they need, they may resort to different ways to be accepted. Hooligans at sporting events, young people who join terrorist groups, or those who are complicit in crime without any interest, join the political youth wing and become involved in mass crimes, or women who are with a man and are sexually abused… working tertiary level prisoners.” (Kohen 2015)

  • Harry Stack Sullivan

Sullivan thought that individuals should not be examined alone, but should be examined within their interpersonal relationships and interpersonal psychoanalysisdeveloped the theory.

Sullivan: “Personality only becomes visible in interpersonal situations.” (Sullivan 1938, Reported by Mitchell, Black 2014 )

Sullivan’s words about the love object: “We want to sit down with the patient and get the most out of what they can remember about current events in her relationship with the love object.” (Sullivan 1938, Reported by Mitchell, Black 2014 )

Sullivan investigated in detail what kind of events occurred between his patient and his love object. For example; He also examined the early life interactions of a person who had problems with his partner. While investigating the problem, he tried to find answers to the following questions.

  • What happened between him and his partner?

  • How did one learn to destroy love?

  • Was the person loved in this way?

  • Was this how he was able to reach out to those important to him in his early childhood?

Sullivan has described the infant as someone who oscillates between total peace and tension. In meeting the physical, mental and emotional needs of the baby, he named the mutual satisfaction of the baby and the caregiver as integrative tendencies.

Sullivan thought that infants are sensitive to the emotional states of the caregivers, and that the feelings of the caregivers are transmitted by empathic connection.

Sullivan placed emphasis on anxiety. In an anxious state, she thought that the infant prevented integration in terms of meeting her needs for satisfaction. In cases where the baby is anxious; while there are problems in feeding, sleeping and cuddling, anxiety in adulthood; It creates problems in areas such as thinking, learning, establishing emotional intimacy, sexual performance, and communication.

Sullivan analyzed anxiety in two steps. In the first step, because the baby feels the caregiver’s (mother) feelings with an empathetic connection, she calls the mother a bad mother when she is anxious and a good mother when she is carefree. In the second step of anxiety, the baby realizes that the future of the mother, good or bad, has a connection with him. When ‘good mother’ comes, ‘good me’ develops, ‘bad me’ develops when ‘bad mother’ comes.

Sullivan obsessiveness; He thought it was a defense based on humiliation and intense anxiety. He observed that obsessives have hypocritical relationships in their families and that obsessives experience love as well as physical and emotional violence by their families. It was explained that the physical and emotional violence applied to them was out of love and attention. Obsessives are people who are confused by these opposite situations. These people are afraid of being emotionally involved with others. Because the confusion in their past experiences has led them to expect that they will feel bad and helpless in their relationships.

He says that people who have experienced pain and humiliation in their past relationships develop security operations to protect themselves in their current relationships.

  • Melanie Klein

Klein’s work is based on child psychoanalysis. Klein placed great emphasis on the child’s first object relationship, namely the mother’s breast and her relationship with her mother.

He saw the instinctive drive as a holistic combination of “self-loving, loved (good)” or “self-loathed and destructive (bad)”.

Klein; In his description of early life, he described an ego oscillating between a loving and hateful orientation. He described these two opposite groups through memes.

In the “urge to love and protect”; There is the image of the lovable and loving object. When the baby takes the food and milk he needs, he feels himself swimming in love and reflects his love to the breast. He thinks she is a loving “good meme” and loves it. He is “thankful” for the good breast.

In the “urge to hate and destroy”; There is a hateful and hateful object image. When the baby does not get the food he needs when he needs it, he feels bad. The meme is malicious for him. He poisoned her with bad milk and then abandoned her. The baby thinks this breast is a “bad breast” and hates it, as a result of which he feels “envy” towards the breast.

“A doctrine of frustration and dissatisfaction is inevitable in the child’s first relationship to the breast, for even a happy diet is no substitute for prenatal mother-child union. Moreover, the child’s longing for a breast that is inexhaustible and always there is not simply due to hunger and libidinal desires. Because even in the early stages of life, the main source of the need to be sure of the mother’s love at all times is anxiety. The struggle between the life and death instincts, and the fear that this will lead to the destruction of both the self and the object by destructive impulses, is decisive in the ego’s first relations with the mother. While she desires a child, she first desires the breast and then the mother to relieve these destructive impulses and relieve her of the pain of persecution anxiety.”(Klein 2016)

While a good breast has a protective-repairing effect; bad meme is destructive. Any confusion between these two objects can also result in the destruction of the good nozzle. This is a disaster for the baby. Because the good meme to protect against the attacks of the bad meme is gone.

Klein called the first organization between good and bad object in the first years of life the “paranoid-schizoid” position. “Paranoid; corresponds to the fear of an invading evil from outside, a central concern of persecution. Schizoid; it refers to the central defense: splitting, the effective separation of the loving and loved good breast from the hated and hated bad breast.”(Mitchell, Black 2014)

The second organization for Klein is the “depressive position”. It is an advanced stage where both love and hate come together in the child’s relationship with all objects. At this stage, the child believes that his love is superior to his hatred, and that his love and hatred will compensate for the destructiveness. So he can keep his objects whole.

Improved Defenses Against Envy According to M. Klein

  • Envy strengthens the denial of all strength and division.

The failure of the normal division between good and bad object can create confusion. These people in their future periods; may experience severe mental disorders or milder instabilities.

  • Defense against envy often takes the form of devaluation of the object by corruption and contamination.

For example; The confrontation technique applied to the patient during the analysis may cause the patient to feel blamed and devalued.

  • Another defense, the devaluation of the self; It is a defense specific to depressive types.

  • Another defense used to counter envy is greed. The baby greedily wants to internalize all the good in the breast to protect it from his own envy. This is also a seed of defeat against envy.

  • Another method of defense is to try to provoke the envy of oneself to others with his own good fortune. Thus, he reverses the envious situation. This in itself can lead to guilt and not being able to enjoy what they have.

  • Another defense is that feelings of love are found when hatred prevails over love. It is a widely used defense. It hurts less than the guilt that is the result of love combined with hate. Against the anxieties that resulted from this, Klein thought that “taking action” had developed. Related to this, he examined analyzes of neurotic and psychotic patients.

  • “The defenses against envy cannot be successful in cases where schizoid and paranoid features increase. Because attacks against the object lead to an increase in the sense of persecution. This creates a situation that can only be overcome by new attacks. In other words, destructive impulses gain strength. Thus, a vicious circle emerges that leads to the impairing of the ability to resist envy. This situation, which is especially seen in schizophrenic cases, is one of the strong reasons encountered in their treatment. (Klein 2016)

  • Depression and guilt are expressions of the desire to protect the loved object and limit the envy.

  • WRD Fairbairn

He is one of the representatives of the British School of Object Relations. He says that people seek pleasure and avoid pain; He researched “why people make themselves unhappy”.

According to Fairbairn, the libido is object-seeking. When people seek fulfilment, they try to relieve stress. In this, they communicate among themselves.

The doll designed by Fairbairn interacts with the environment. They become attached to their parents through the form of contact their parents offered them. This creates a learned attachment pattern for them. They also use this pattern when connecting with others. For example; If the child takes pleasure from the relationship he has established with his parents, he seeks the “pleasure” he has learned from his previous relationship while communicating and interacting with others. If the child experiences painful experiences in the relationship he has established with his parents, if he has been abused by them, he will also seek pain when communicating with others. In his studies, Fairbairn thought that the first relationships that children form with their parents are driven by their children, just as ducklings are guided when they first hatch.

According to Fairbairn, healthy parenting thought that the child’s communication with others would be provided by realistic contact and exchange, and that the child would result in his orientation to real people.

  • DWWinnicott

He is the second largest representative of the British School of Object Relations. He is a pediatrician and specialist. He studied infants and their mothers.

Winnicott on love; “A baby can be nurtured without love, but lovelessness as an impersonal treatment cannot succeed in creating a new autonomous human offspring.” (Freud 1971, Posted by Mitchell, Black 2014)

Winnicott attributes the cause of false self disorder in adult patients to the interaction with her mother in infancy. In this interaction, it is not abuse or severe deprivation, but the mother’s reactions to meet her baby’s needs. The most important thing is not the mother’s feeding her baby, but the love she shows for her baby. Winnicott considered the baby’s early life to be important in terms of affecting his personality. He thought that one of the most important factors affecting the baby’s personality was the environment provided by the mother to the baby. When the mother cannot prepare an adequate environment, she thinks that the baby has “false self disorder” and that this is environmental deficiency diseases.

She described the process that enables the “good enough mother” to provide a good environment that her baby needs as “primary maternal preoccupation”. This is also called “primary maternal insanity” in some sources. In this process, the mother puts her own wishes aside and concentrates on the satisfaction of the baby’s needs and desires. How the mother meets the baby’s needs is very important (for example, the presentation of the breast). The baby feels “all the power” because whatever he wants happens immediately. It is equally important that the mother be there when the baby needs the mother and not when she does not. Winnicott called this the “embracing environment”. According to Winnicott, when the mother did not create the inclusive environment well enough, the psychological development of the children was disrupted.

A good enough mother gives her child the opportunity to develop himself by playing games; The mother, who is not good enough, confronts the child with the world she feels she has to adapt and face. This causes anxiety in the child. It restricts its development and the formation of the self.

For Winnicott, play is a rehearsal of real life. Children learn about life by playing games.

  • Erik H. Erikson

He worked on identity and self psychology. In the first stage of life, the basic insecurity stage, Erikson said: “The baby who comes into this world with a good genetics, loving parents, and even grandparents ready to hold and love him is lucky. We have to accept the fact that without basic trust the baby will not survive.”(Erikson 2014)

For Erikson, the most important aspect of the first stage is that babies establish secure relationships with their mothers in this stage. He stated in his own words that this trust will be based on love. When the baby cannot establish a bond of trust with its mother, insecurity can spread to other areas of life and deprive the person of love and friendship. People who cannot establish a bond of trust may become unable to trust their own abilities in their future lives. The body may become weak. The person may despair. May have difficulties with simple activities. The realization of all these causes people to feel depressed in old age.

  • Otto Kernberg

Kernberg thought that internalized object relations were important in the understanding of severe personality disorders and brought together different views in a comprehensive way.

Kernberg’s developmental model; He thought that the baby oscillates between two affective states in the early stages of his life. These are “pleasure” and “discontentment”. While contentment gives pleasure to the baby; discontent hurts the baby. A satisfied baby feels himself in an environment that gives pleasure while he is satisfied with his state. The baby who is not satisfied is not satisfied. He feels blocked and filled with tension, he feels imprisoned in a painful environment.

  • The first developmental task for Kernberg; is the separation of self-images from objective images. If the baby fails to do this, a separate and independent reliable sense of self is not formed. There is no clear distinction between self-images and objective images. Reliable boundaries do not develop between the inner and outer space. Failure in this developmental task is the basis of psychotic (delusions, hallucinations, schizophrenic symptoms, mental breakdown…) states.

  • The second developmental task for Kernberg; successfully overcoming the split. After the separation of objective and self-images, there is also an affective separation. “Good, loving self-images and good, satisfying object images are held together by positive (libidinal) affect, and bad and obstructing object images are distinguished from bad, hateful self-images linked by negative (aggressive) affects. This developmentally normal division is overcome when the infant develops the ability to experience ‘all objects’, both good and bad, satisfying and inhibiting. Simultaneously with the integration of object images, self-images are also integrated. Now the self is felt as a part experienced as both good and bad, loving and hating.” (Mitchell, Black 2014)

The singular intensity of his love or hate is lessened by the coming together of good and evil. This is actually an improved version of Klein’s theory. According to Kernberg, “borderline” personality disorder may occur in the future in babies who cannot perform the second developmental task.

Kernberg’s third developmental step is high-level personality development. Here is the stage when self-object boundaries are intact and object and self-images are integrated. Kernberg thought that people who had problems at this stage would experience “neurotic” problems.

Pathology of Personality and Love Relationships According to Kernberg

According to Kernberg, the essence of personality is the level of development of internal object relations.

  • “In Kernberg’s scheme of love relationships, individuals with the most severe disorder experience love and sexuality in the context of their inability to establish and maintain regular boundaries between themselves and the other. “ (Mitchell, Black 2014)

What is considered normal in love and sexual relations in people with severe disorders; a relationship that goes from personal immunity to intimacy does not emerge. These people either have no relationship with the others or there is a holistic intertwining. This situation emerges in the inhibition in the first developmental stage of the theory developed by Kernberg.

  • According to Kernberg, individuals on the borderline spectrum experience love and sexuality in terms of their inability to integrate good and bad object relations into a single, complex relationship. (Mitchell, Black 2014)

Sexuality is bipolar in individuals with borderline disorder. It is often hindered from integration because it concentrates on the perverse and wild qualities of sexuality and disturbs it with its close and soft qualities. If we connect this with the theory, Kernberg thinks that it is the result of failure in the second developmental stage.

  • “Problems at the neurotic level involving love and sexuality are understood in terms of classical drive-defense conflicts in Kernberg’s system. Neurotic patients have achieved self-object differentiation and have overcome division. They have an integrated self in their relationship with all objects, their difficulties connected with conflicts of impulses. (Mitchell, Black 2014)

While the first two stages of development are completed in a healthy way in neurotic individuals, Kernberg developed Freud’s classical drive-defense theory in the third stage. In this theory developed by Kernberg, sexuality is at the center, but it is not causal. Here, sexuality consists of self-object relations. Kernberg emphasizes this: “It is internalized and external object relations that keep sex alive and provide the potential for endless sexual gratification.” (Kernberg 1980, Reported by Mitchell, Black 2014)

In Freud’s classical drive-defense theory, libidinal and aggressive drives are in conflict. Kernberg agrees. He thinks that libidinal impulses are filled with childish sexual aims and that they experience dangerous and anti-social experiences. Aggressive impulses, on the other hand, are dangerous because they are directed at loved objects after the second developmental stage, division, has been overcome. Because of these, neuroses occur in the third stage due to the failure of a healthy upper developmental stage.

As a result, in this compilation I prepared, I made a general introduction by mentioning the importance of love theory in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, starting from love and sexuality in Freud’s period, depending on the development of psychological theories. From the love between mother and baby, which forms the basis of Sullivan’s theory of interpersonal psychology, I started with object relations theory with Klein and focused on mother and baby love in the object relations theories of Fairbairn and Winnicott. I mentioned the importance of love in Erikson’s identity and self psychology. Finally, I completed my compilation with Kernberg’s theory of love, which integrates many theories and brings them together comprehensively.

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